Virgin Atlantic was today [Jan. 31] accused of racism after allegedly rejecting a job application from an African refugee, but accepting him when he applied with a British name.
Max Kpakio was turned down for a call centre job - and when he suspected his foreign-sounding name was at fault, he re-submitted his application under the name Craig Owen.
He claims the enthusiastic response the second application received proves that his initial rejection was based solely on racial discrimination, and is taking the airline to an employment tribunal.
The 36-year-old graduate was born in Liberia, but has lived in the UK for the past 10 years and is now a British citizen.
When his application to work at a Virgin call centre in Swansea was rejected, he was convinced it was due to his African name.
Not only was he invited for interview when he applied as Craig Owen, but the company repeatedly contacted him encouraging his application - even though it was nothing more than a simplified version of his genuine CV.
After he failed to respond to their initial email, they sent a string of messages saying how much they were looking forward to meeting him.
Application: Mr Kpakio hoped to get a job at the Virgin call centre based in this building in Swansea
'They were in touch with me seven or eight times, and kept coming back to me when I didn't respond.'
Mr Kpakio moved to Swansea with his three children in 2002, to escape the civil war which was tearing his home country apart. He earned a degree in International Relations from Swansea University.
Refugee: The 36-year-old left his native Liberia to escape the civil war and graduated from Swansea University
A spokeswoman for Virgin Atlantic said:
We are an equal opportunities employer. We pride ourselves on providing opportunities to talented people regardless of their race, sex, age or other characteristic.
'We take allegations of discrimination extremely seriously.
'And whilst we do not comment on individual cases, we strongly deny any of our recruitment decisions or practices are discriminatory in any way.'
Lawsuit: Virgin Atlantic, founded by Richard Branson, pictured, denies racial discrimination
A number of studies in which researchers have submitted identical CVs under two sets of name, British and non-British, have shown that the former are significantly more likely to receive a positive response from employers.
- Daily Mail