Fired WSU coach plans to sue over vaccine mandate

Former WSU Coach Nick Rolovich is now planning to sue the state because he was fired for not getting the COVID 19 vaccine.

Washington State University refused a religious exemption to Rolovich.

Now Rolovich has fired back with notice that he will file a lawsuit over the loss of his $3 million per year job.

His lawyer said in a news release that Coach Rolovich has been derided, demonized and ultimately fired from his job, merely for being devout in his Catholic faith.

Prominent labor lawyer Judith Lonnquist says the case faces a tough climb.

“First of all, he has to prove that his Catholicism has a religious tenet against inoculations, vaccines. I don’t think he can prove that. That’s a very high burden,” she said.

This is especially true, she says, since Pope Francis vocally endorsed the vaccine two weeks ago.

In fact, a Catholic priest from Spokane is featured in a State Department of Health testimonial.

“Getting the vaccine felt like an act of compassion and empathy. This is what we had to do for our elderly brothers, our school,” Father J.K. Adams says in the health department video.

The Rolovich case highlights the fact that state workers must clear two hurdles if they want to keep working unvaccinated.

They must get a religious or medical exemption and the state must agree they can be accommodated without endangering others.

“Even with an exemption, if you are in a position where you are in daily contact, regular contact with regular human beings who are susceptible to becoming ill, then the employer has to do something about that,” Lonnquist said.

Rolovich’s lawyer points out the coach was allowed to go on a secret trip with donors in July of last year as an indication that an accommodation was possible.

“Although the coach didn’t, everybody else did or many of the people on that trip got COVID, so that sort of proves the point,” Lonnquist said.

Neither Rolovich nor his lawyer answered questions from reporters the day after his firing.