Former Washington State football coach Nick Rolovich has filed a lawsuit against the university and the state’s Democrat Gov. Jay Inslee, for firing him over his coronavirus vaccination status.
In the lawsuit, Rolovich claims that Washington State Athletic Director Patrick Chun unfairly terminated his employment in accordance with Gov. Inslee’s order for all state employees to receive the coronavirus vaccine if they did not have a specific exemption. Though Rolovich, a practicing Catholic, tried to obtain a religious exemption, he claims that the university and Chun specifically gave him “hostile” treatment.
“Rolovich contends Chun and other university officials were ‘hostile’ when they denied him a religious exemption and fired him from his $3 million a year coaching job midway through the 2021 season,” reported USA Today. “Rolovich was the highest-paid public employee in the state at the time and had more than three years left on his five-year contract.”
Rolovich further claims in the lawsuit that Chun referred to him as a selfish “con man” for seeking a religious objection and ensured that it would be rejected.
School officials have denounced the lawsuit and defended their firing of Rolovic, citing Inslee’s order.
“Washington State University carried out the Governor’s COVID-19 vaccination proclamation for state employees in a fair and lawful manner, including in its evaluation of employee requests for medical or religious exemptions and accommodations. For multiple reasons, Mr. Rolovich did not qualify, and the university firmly stands by that decision,” the statement said.
In a letter released last year, Rolovich’s lawyer detailed that Chun had a particular “animus” toward the coach’s religious beliefs.
“Since at least early April, it became clear that Chun had already determined that Coach Rolovich would be fired,” the letter stated. “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.”
Gov. Jay Inslee has also dismissed Rolovich’s claims as “just wrong.”