Following a marathon mediation, former Wallabies star Israel Folau and Rugby Australia have settled their dispute over the termination of Folau’s employment with Rugby Australia after he made controversial comments on Twitter about homosexuality.
The case was notable and of political significance because it highlighted the tensions between the rights of employers to dismiss workers to preserve their own reputational interests, freedom of religion, and employees being able to publicly express their own opinions outside of work.
It’s understood it’s a favourable result for Folau, who not only will receive an undisclosed sum in damages, but who also received a public apology from Rugby Australia.
Janet Albrechtsen reports:
“On Wednesday afternoon, following marathon mediation negotiations, RA wholeheartedly apologised to Folau. In fact, the humiliating settlement overseen by Castle saw RA “acknowledge and apologise for any hurt or harm caused” to both Israel and his wife, Maria. It reads like a mea culpa from RA for being part of the pile-on that Maria endured when she publicly supported her husband during this battle.
“Folau received money from RA, too. That’s in addition to the $2.1m fighting fund to cover his legal expenses from Australians who support Folau’s right to express his religious views, even if many — like me — disagree vehemently with his views. That, after all, is the real test of our commitment to freedom of expression, and religious freedom, in a liberal democracy.”
Reading between the lines, Rugby Australia’s legal position may not have been as strong as they were claiming. But another explanation is that the ongoing drama with the player who used to be their biggest star overshadowing the game itself would have proven very costly in itself.
Last year, Professor Peter Ridd was sacked by James Cook University after speaking out on issues relating to climate change research.
He took James Cook University to the Federal Circuit Court, arguing his termination of employment was unlawful.
Today, Ridd has won his case, with the Court awarding judgment in his favour:
“Handing down his decision today, judge Salvatore Vasta said that the 17 findings used by the university to justify the sacking were unlawful.
“The Court rules that the 17 findings made by the University, the two speech directions, the five confidentiality directions, the no satire direction, the censure and the final censure given by the University and the termination of employment of Professor Ridd by the University were all unlawful,” Judge Vasta said.
A penalty hearing will be set for a later date.
At a hearing last month, Professor Ridd’s barrister Stuart Wood argued his client was entitled to criticise his colleagues and the university’s perceived lack of quality assurance processes.”
This is a win for free speech and academic freedom.
Climate blogger Jennifer Marohasy provides an interesting report on Dr Peter Ridd’s case against James Cook University in the Federal Circuit Court. Ridd’s employment as an academic of the university was terminated in May due to him speaking out and defying a gag order imposed by the university.
Continue reading “JCU in Court for adverse actions against academic freedom”