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Lawyers for social campaigner Sally Rugg claim Kooyong MP Monique Ryan retaliated against her adviser for refusing to work unreasonable hours.

Attorney Angel Aleksov told a Federal Court hearing this morning that Ryan expected Rugg, who was her chief of staff, to work more than could be considered reasonable.

The former head of change.org filed a lawsuit against the Commonwealth and Ryan in January after she was fired in December.

Federal MP Monique Ryan arrives at court this morning. Credit:Paul Jeffers

Aleksov said Ryan complained to Rugg about her refusal to do community service and work weekends.

“I want you to work harder,” Aleksov quoted Ryan as saying to Rugg.

Ryan felt that Rugg was not fulfilling the roles expected of her in the office, Aleksov said.

Rugg was the “subject of retaliation” after she refused to do certain types of work, ultimately leading to her departure.

Ryan denies Rugg’s claims, but Aleksov said the MP did not deny that Rugg worked 70-hour weeks.

“A salary of $130,000 with a maximum of about $30,000 does not justify someone working 70 hours a week, week in and week out. It just can’t be,” said Aleksov.

He said Rugg’s treatment was a “serious violation” of the Fair Work Act.

The attorney said it is unlikely that Ryan will accept Ruggs return to her office should the federal court agree to an order for Ruggs to leave office.