Religious Persecution? Ex-Washington State University Football Coach to File Lawsuit

October 21st, 2021 1:34 PM

We’ve heard about firings and threats of firings for people across the country declining vaccinations. Now come the lawsuits, notably the impending legal action from Nick Rolovich following his firing on Monday as head football coach at Washington State University. The ex-coach plans to sue the university and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) could potentially come into play and in Rolovich’s favor.

Breitbart indicated that Rolovich and four assistant football coaches were terminated with cause for failing to comply with WSU’s vaccination mandate. Along with his attorney sending a letter to the school denouncing his client's firing as “unjust and unlawful,” Rolovich plans to take legal action against the school and the state institutions behind his axing.

ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg reported the Fahling letter “came after Coach Rolovich’s request for a religious exemption from the vaccine was denied by the university. The institution also indicated that even if the exemption had been granted, no accommodation would have been made.”

The letter accused WSU Athletic Director Pat Chun of demonstrating “animus” towards Rolovich:

Since at least early April, it became clear that Chun had already determined that Coach Rolovich would be fired. Chun’s animus towards Coach Rolovich’s sincerely held religious beliefs, and Chun’s dishonesty at the expense of Coach Rolovich during the past year is damning and will be thoroughly detailed in litigation. Chun’s discriminatory and vindictive behavior have caused immeasurable harm to Coach Rolovich and his family.

Over at San Jose Mercury News, the paper chided Rolovich’s attempt to seek a religious exemption because vaccinations have been mandated by the state of Washington.

However, FEDweek reported that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) "may limit some government employers' adoption of vaccine mandates and affect future legislation governing vaccine mandates." If that's the case, it could be a legal point in Rolovich's favor.

Rolovich may also be one of the victims in a greater bias at Washington State University, which has denied nearly 80 percent of the applications it received for religious exemptions concerning coronavirus vaccinations.

The Guardian tried to justify religious arguments for vaccinations by stating that Pope Francis and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have stated that “all Covid-19 vaccines are morally acceptable and that Catholics have a duty, responsibility or obligation to be vaccinated.”

Another legal sticking point is the determination of whether or not Rolovich will receive the $3 million in salary he is owed from the remainder of his contract.

Pending a legal defense of Rolovich, Fahling called the coach’s dismissal “a tragic and damning commentary on our culture, and more specifically, on Chun, that Coach Rolovich has been derided, demonized and ultimately fired from his job, merely for being devout in his Catholic faith.

"While I have made my own decision," Rolovich said previously, "I respect that every individual -- including our coaches, staff and student-athletes -- can make his or her own decision regarding the COVID-19 vaccine." That respect was not mutual, not by the state or his former university employer.

Incidentally, COVID-19 infections are currently in a free-fall, a sharp downward spiral.