WSU fired its head coach over the vaccine mandate. This is the exemption process it used
PULLMAN, Wash. – Just two days after he was fired, former head football coach Nick Rolovich said he’s taking legal action against Washington State University and everyone involved in his dismissal.
In a statement, Rolovich’s lawyer said his termination was “unjust and unlawful.” He also said the athletic director, Pat Chun’s “discriminatory and vindictive [sic] behavior caused immeasurable harm to Coach Rolovich and his family.”
However, the university said its process was objective.
Phil Weiler, the vice president of marketing and communications, couldn’t comment on Rolovich’s process itself, but the process in general for all staff. The university also did not comment further on pending litigation from Rolovich.
In regards to considering religious exemptions, Weiler said there was a committee of at least two people with experience in law, civil rights issues, human resources or HR law.
Weiler said they worked with the attorney general’s office in trying to develop the process of looking at exemptions.
“There is case law out there that’s around religious exemptions. We wanted to make sure we knew what that case law said, what other courts had said on this topic,” he said.
Weiler said it’s a two-step process for religious exemptions.
First, those in the committee get those exemption requests to look at. Weiler said names and job titles are redacted in this portion.
Students and staff can apply for exemptions in a portal. Weiler said it asks several questions.
“What tenants of your religion prevent you from being vaccinated? Have you been vaccinated for other kinds of illnesses in the past, those kinds of questions,” Weiler said. “Really, what they wanted to get at is – is this a sincerely held religious belief?”
If a vaccine exemption is approved, the employee would meet with a supervisor and HR to figure out accommodations.
Preliminary numbers show a majority of students and staff are vaccinated. Weiler said fewer than 50 people left their jobs due to the mandate.
Weiler said HR staff are still going through some last-minute exemptions and will have more data to share later this week.
Rolovich was fired Monday after not getting the COVID-19 vaccine. He said he asked for a religious exemption and WSU leaders said it was denied.
Now, Rolovich is fighting back. He said Chun was hostile toward Rolovich’s “sincerely held religious beliefs.”
Rolovich’s attorney, Brian Fahling, cited Rolovich’s Catholic faith. However, Pope Francis has urged people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
All we know is Rolovich said he’s following his Catholic beliefs and not much more than that.
No one expected this ending when hiring Rolovich in January 2020. However, back then nobody expected the pandemic either.
When it came down to following a state mandate, WSU said Rolovich left them no choice.
“He was resolute in his stance and he’s righted to make a choice and that choice wasn’t in compliance with the governor and that’s why we sit here today,” Chun said on Monday after Rolovich’s termination.
Rolovich said in July he wouldn’t get vaccinated, ultimately asking for a religious exemption. Rolovich’s attorney also claims he was targeted.
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