Sally Rugg claims Monique Ryan sacked her for refusing to work ‘unreasonable hours’

Activist Sally Rugg claims teal independent Dr Monique Ryan tried to sack her after just six months as her chief-of-staff because she refused to work “unreasonable” hours.

Rugg, the former head of and an experienced campaigner on socially progressive issues, has launched Federal Court action against Ryan and the Commonwealth of Australia, and is trying to stop the latter from firing her following a dispute about working hours.

Monique Ryan and Sally Rugg.Credit:Photos: Alex Ellinghausen/Nick Moir

Rugg was recruited by Ryan in July following the Kooyong independent’s election win over former Liberal treasurer Josh Frydenberg after Ryan campaigned on platforms of climate action and political integrity.

In court documents lodged in the Federal Court, Rugg claims the first respondent in the action – listed as the Commonwealth – denied her workplace right of refusing “to work additional hours that were unreasonable” resulting in the Commonwealth “engaging in hostile conduct in the workplace”.

Rugg wants a court to find the Commonwealth breached the Fair Work Act by dismissing her, effective from January 31, because she “exercised a workplace right, being to make complaints and inquiries in relation to her employment”.

Rugg – who is represented by high-profile, Labor-aligned employment lawyer Josh Bernstein – alleges in the documents that Ryan was the “principal actor” in the above allegations, and is calling for an injunction to stop Ryan from terminating her employment.

While MPs’ staffers work for them, their employment is technically under the Department of Finance.

Rugg’s lawyers, from the firm Maurice Blackburn, declined to comment, but confirmed she was still employed by Ryan.

Rugg is also demanding compensation over the alleged breaches of workplace law.

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