A federal judge has ruled against former Washington State Cougars head coach Nick Rolovich’s lawsuit involving his vaccine-mandate termination in 2021.
Washington State fired Rolovich and four assistant coaches in October 2021 for refusing to get the Covid vaccine, in compliance with a mandate requiring the vaccine for all state employees.
Rolovich sued the university, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, and Washington State Athletic Director Pat Chun over his termination. He claimed he had been denied protections under the First Amendment, as he had asked for a religious exemption.
According to Spokane, Wash., TV station KXLY, federal judge Tom Rice on Tuesday dismissed Inslee and Chun from the suit. In his decision, Rice noted that Rolovich didn’t reveal his religious beliefs until Aug. 19, 2021.
Rice said “any allegations of coercion prior to that date cannot support a free exercise claim because it was not evident [Rolovich] possessed religious beliefs.”
According to the report, Rolovich did not dispute the dismissal. His suit against Washington State is still pending.
Rice also noted in his decision, “This Court and many others around the country have consistently found COVID-19 vaccine mandates for state employees are facially neutral and generally applicable, and terminating an employee for failing to comply with a vaccine mandate is a permissible employment action.”
Rolovich went 5-6 in his two seasons at Washington State. He went 28-27 in four seasons at Hawaii before joining the Cougars.