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Article

RAs initiate class-action lawsuit against UniLodge

UniLodge will be facing a class-action lawsuit initiated late last year by multiple residential advisors (RAs) working with Adero Law. The lawsuit accuses UniLodge and partnered universities, including the University of Canberra and the University of Sydney, of wage theft and exploitation.

Content warning: sexual assault/harrassment and trauma in no explicit detail.

 

UniLodge will be facing a class-action lawsuit initiated late last year by multiple residential advisors (RAs) working with Adero Law. The lawsuit accuses UniLodge and partnered universities, including the University of Canberra and the University of Sydney, of wage theft and exploitation.

UniLodge claims that the RA arrangement operated under the Hospitality Award contract. However, the RAs consider the Higher Education Award contract to be a more accurate classification of the work they were doing, and that it was unlawful for UniLodge to require staff to be on call without pay.

The lawsuit arrives at a time when UniLodge’s Regiment Building, a USyd student accommodation facility operated by UniLodge, has become surrounded by allegations of maintenance failures, COVID safety issues, unresponsiveness to complaints, as well as RA underpayment. Such behaviour from UniLodge would be in violation of its contractual obligations of amenities maintenance and complaint resolution under the Occupancy Agreement.

The class action lawsuit follows months of correspondence between the two parties surrounding current employment and rental arrangements for RAs, including demands that rent for RAs be reduced due to the employment requirement for residential advisors to live within Unilodge Accommodation.

The RAs argue that “it would be unreasonable to expect RAs to pay the same amount of rent as non-employee residents, as living at Unilodge Accommodation is a prerequisite of employment and is conditional to all current employment”.

UniLodge maintains that it is not required to adjust rent for RAs and believes that it has entered into a “private rental agreement, separate from your employment” and has thus refused to agree to rent deductions for RAs.

The RAs have also raised concerns about the expectation they have been faced with to conduct both volunteer work, which is not allowed under the Fair Work Act if an employment contract is in place, as well as conducting work which existed outside their employment award.

Former Davey Lodge RA, Gabrielle Magyary did not receive mental health or sexual assault training until four months into her position, despite being expected to descalate these incidents as a part of her role as RA. Magyary felt that she lacked the qualifications to handle these situations, suffering emotional trauma as a result.  UniLodge justified the lack of training by deeming it “unnecessary” to run what were usually group-based training courses for a single  person.

Taylor Meers, a former RA of UC Lodge noted similar experiences.  Meers recalls having encountered  multiple situations, mainly surrounding residents' excessive drinking, where she felt that her “safety was compromised”. After a particular incident, Meers was advised to seek counselling. UniLodge booked her into one session with “no ongoing plan” for further support.. Meers believes that UniLodge did this to simply “tick a box”, and the entire situation left her feeling “played” by the company, who saw her experiences as something that was “last on the agenda”.

Adero Law is currently open to testimonies from any former or ongoing employees of UniLodge affected by these allegations.

 
Farrago's magazine cover - Edition Three 2021

EDITION TWO 2022 AVAILABLE NOW!

Read our newest folklore edition! She's filled to the brim with tantalising folk-tales, day-dreamy illustrations and spell-binding hot-takes on everything from Indian mythology to the Sad-Girl music era!

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