Religious Freedom termination ought be investigated

Tasmanian Liberal Senator Eric Abetz has referred the termination of Israel Folau to the Fair Work Ombudsman and to the Australian Human Rights Commission for consideration and potential investigation. 

Senator Abetz has noted that both the Fair Work Act and the Australian Human Rights Commission Act provide some protections against discrimination on the basis of religion. 

“Given the widespread coverage of the Folau matter, I believe there is a public interest in fully exploring and considering whether the termination of Mr Folau was actually in violation of the current laws,” Senator Abetz said.

“Under the Fair Work Act it is expressly unlawful, and indeed there is a reversed onus of proof, to discriminate against an employee on the basis of their religion. Given – as it has been reported – Mr Folau was terminated on the basis of publicly expressing his personal religious beliefs, it would appear to contradict existing law.”

“If that is the case, I would hope that the regulator would fully investigate and consider action on this matter especially given the considerable public attention this matter has received.”

“As a fundamental threshold matter, it is important that we clearly identify if under the current law an employer can sack an employee for expressing their religious beliefs on social media outside the workplace – and if not, it will require a careful examination of whether the Act requires amendment and whether the Fair Work Act does not fully protect employees from other forms of discrimination.”

“I have written to both the Fair Work Ombudsman and the President of the Australian Human Rights Commission to ask them both to consider this matter,” Senator Abetz concluded. 

About Eric

Eric Abetz has been a Liberal Senator for Tasmania since 1994 and has served in a range of Leadership, Ministerial and Shadow Ministerial roles.

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