New target in Folau lawyers’ sights
ISRAEL Folau's legal team plans on targeting sponsors who they say pushed Rugby Australia to scrap the former Wallaby fullback's $4 million contract.
The Australian reports exclusively sponsors including Qantas, Asics, Land Rover, Swisse and HSBC are likely to be drawn into protracted legal proceedings over the next few years.
Qantas has previously called the accusations "outrageous".
"Israel's comments were terrible for a large element of the community and a vulnerable element of the community," Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, a supporter of LGBTI rights, said.
"It is (RA's) issue to resolve, they have put a solution in place … and we're very supportive of what they're doing."
News.com.au previously reported several lawyers said Folau could go after sponsors for damages if it could be proved they helped induce a decision by RA to sack him.
Legal experts speaking to news.com.au this week said Folau could have an avenue to strike out at the sponsors.
"The Fair Work Act has a section where a third party, such as for example a sponsor of RA, could also be held liable in certain circumstances," MKI Legal director Nicholas Marouchak said.
"Section 550 of the Fair Work Act, known as the accessorial liability provisions, could make a sponsor of RA liable if that sponsor was 'involved' in having Folau dismissed because of his religion.
"For a sponsor to be held liable, Folau has to first win his primary claim against RA, and the sponsor would have needed to have essentially encouraged RA to sack him or provided other material assistance to RA in helping RA carry out the sacking, such as advising or counselling them in doing it."
Folau is seeking up to $10 million in damages from RA after it terminated his $5 million contract following an Instagram post that said gay people, along with others, were headed to hell unless they repented.
The former star player's lawyers said the sacking went against section 772 of the Fair Work Act, which bars discrimination in employment on religious grounds.
RA said it was justified to ditch Folau because of repeated breaches of the players' code of conduct.
A conciliation meeting last week failed to bridge the divide between Folau and RA. The code's chairman, Cameron Clyne, said he had little choice but to act after Folau's social media posts.
"(The alternative) would be that we'd have no sponsors at all because no sponsor has indicated they would be willing to be associated with social media posts of that sort, and that includes government because we've also heard from them," Mr Clyne said.
Folau has raised more than $2 million for his legal fight via fundraising. A campaign on GoFundMe was shut down, and all donations were refunded before the Australian Christian Lobby started a second campaign.
Some experts say Folau's legal costs will not exceed $300,000.