The termination of Israel Folau’s contract following his now notorious “tweet” will, in the absence of a commercial settlement, raise the issue of whether an employer can restrict the ability of an employee to express her or his religious beliefs.
A similar, but less publicised, case may determine whether an employer can dismiss an employee based on grounds including a publication she made as a candidate in the NSW 2019 State election.
The CEO of a company he describes as “a foreign-owned renewable energy business in alignment with the Paris Agreement’s objective…” took exception to the campaign material of an employee standing as a candidate for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party on the grounds, amongst others, that the campaign material included: the suggestion that Australia should withdraw from the Paris Agreement, the suggestion that taxpayer subsidies for renewable sources of energy should not be supported, and a stated concern with foreign ownership of companies.
The CEO ultimately notified the employee that her employment would be terminated on notice. The termination is being challenged.
If finally determined, both cases will likely shape the extent to which (if at all) employers can legitimately restrict the right of employees to express their religious or political views.