Man accuses Virgin Atlantic of racial discrimination over job rejection
A refugee from West Africa who has lived in Wales for 10 years is accusing Virgin Atlantic of racial discrimination after his application for a call centre job was rejected.
Max Kpakio, 36, moved to Swansea with his three children in 2002 to escape the civil war in his home country.
He applied for the job in Swansea in his own name, but was turned down. He then applied with a made-up name, Craig Owen, and was repeatedly invited for an interview.
He told Wales Online: "Virgin Atlantic recently opened a call centre opposite Swansea railway station. A friend told me they were taking on staff and I went along to a presentation in their offices.
"At the presentation it was made clear that the people taken on did not need any qualifications, and that training would be provided.
"I'd offered advice to clients over the telephone before, so I believed I was a very good candidate for the job. When I was sent a rejection, I couldn't understand it – I thought I had provided a very good CV."
His CV gave information about his BA in International Relations from Swansea University, as well as his previous phone experience.
Mr Kpakio said: "I thought this was very strange. I was the only person from an ethnic minority in the group which heard the presentation and it occurred to me that my ethnic origin may have something to do with the rejection.
"I then decided to make a further application to Virgin, using the name Craig Owen."
In a shorter CV, Kpakio wrote that "Craig Owen" had a politics degree from Swansea University and had worked for Tesco Express as a sales assistant, for Asda as a checkout assistant and for ABL as a customer service adviser.
"Craig Owen" received a response from Virgin inviting him for an interview, but Mr Kpakio did not respond.
He said: "They were in touch with me seven or eight times, and kept coming back to me when I didn't respond.
"There was an enormous difference in the way I was treated when I used a British name.
"I have made an application to the employment tribunal alleging racial discrimination."
According to the Daily Mail, a spokeswoman for Virgin Atlantic said: "Virgin Atlantic is an equal opportunities employer and prides itself 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."
The case will be heard by an employment tribunal in April.
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