WHEN BEING BLACK SUCKS: Graduate Seeks £55,000 In Compensation After ‘Virgin Atlantic Rejected His Job Application In An African Name But Invited Him For Interview When He Used A ‘British’ One’

4 min

Max KpakioI am not sure how loss of earnings can be claimed by Max Kpakio under this circumstance but I can smell discrimination out there…However, can it be proved that there was discrimination in law on balance of probabilities? I doubt so…7

Mail Online Reports

A job-hunter today claimed £55,888 compensation from Virgin Atlantic for being rejected in his name of Max Kpakio – but accepted when he changed it to the more British-sounding ‘Craig Owen’.

African-born university graduate Mr Kpakio, 36, is taking Sir Richard Branson’s airline to an employment tribunal accusing it of racial discrimination.

The father-of-three, who was born in Liberia but has lived in Britain for 10 years and is now a British citizen, was rejected when he applied for a job at a Virgin call centre in Swansea under his real name.

Suspecting his rejection was due to his African name, Mr Kpakio resubmitted a simplified version of his own CV in the more ‘British-sounding’ name of Craig Owen, and claims he was immediately invited for interview.

Not only that, but the firm repeatedly chased him for interview, despite his not responding to their original request.

Speaking at the tribunal in Cardiff today, employment judge Mrs Claire Sharp said: ‘You are bringing a claim under the Equality Act. You claim you applied for a job and Virgin’s arrangements were discriminatory.

‘You allege direct discrimination and say Virgin discriminated against you because of your race and, because of that, their treatment was different to how they treated others.

‘By comparison, you have contributed a CV in the name of Craig Owen which is, in fact, you, but using a British name.

‘One of the CVs was progressed and the other one wasn’t.

‘The names are important here. If someone has not a traditional British name like Mr Kpakio’s then you can make a guess at their ethnic origin from that name.’

Father-of-three Mr Kpakio, who lives in Swansea and says he is not motivated by money, is claiming loss of earnings and injury to feelings from Virgin Atlantic.

He told the tribunal today: ‘I’ve decided to challenge this case not because I want compensation of any kind, but because I want to be treated fairly and in a just manner.

‘This is about justice and change – people hear my story and say: “Oh Max, this has been going on in many places”.

‘Even if the hearing finds in my favour I wouldn’t want a cent – if Virgin could just apologise or give me a job.

‘A job would bring my dignity back, I’ve been unemployed for eight months now, I just don’t want to live on benefits.’

Mr Kpakio said after he was rejected he decided to ‘test’ Virgin Atlantic by applying using a name he thought sounded Welsh, Craig Owen.

He said he answered three main questions very similarly to how he did it on the first form, and added: ‘The CV and the equal opportunities form clearly identified me as someone not born here, not schooled here and a black African.

The reason I was rejected was because of my ethnic origin – because I’m black African.’

Virgin Atlantic claimed the two CVs had differences which led to Mr Kpakio being rejected for the customer service role.

They say ‘Craig Owen’s’ application had five years’ experience working in ASDA and Tesco supermarkets which were not on the Kpakio application.

Alexander Robson, representing Virgin Atlantic, told Mr Kpakio: ‘If you really wanted to test them you would have done so by simply changing the name and ticking a different ethnic box on the equal opportunities form.

‘But you added work and an employment history which simply did not appear on the original.

‘When we see the difference between the two CVs we see one with five years of customer-facing roles.

‘The real reason you did that was not to test Virgin Atlantic but because you wanted to claim compensation.’

Virgin Atlantic also claim they were unable to tell Mr Kpakio was from Africa from his original application.

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  1. Well this is shocking news. I thought that by employing Usain Bolt to be the “face” of Virgin Media that black people were welcome to work across all Virgin brands.

    Richard Branson needs to stop frolicking on the beach with the likes of Kate Moss and Kate Winslet on Necker Island and fly his backside over to Swansea ASAP! And deal with the person behind it, cause one thing I know is that Sir Richard Branson is not racist cause he is donating 3 billion from his travel profits to educational charities in Africa including Ghana over the next 10 years, And has houses all over Haiti, Jamaica etc.

    But on a serious note organisations have been pulling this stunt for YEARS and keep getting away with it. Anyway i wish Max the best of luck with this case. This is going to be interesting.

  2. This is simply no racial matter; it is money he wants. to test you need to present the same application not one giving experience and one without. and how stupid of him that if you have worked all this while till just 8months ago, he will not state the experience you have.

  3. @Miyagi the only reason for them using Usain Bolt is to gain more publicity and more money, if Usain Bolt wouldn’t have provided any real benefits to them i’m sure they would never have used him

  4. “The reason I was rejected was because of my ethnic origin – because I’m black African.’” Let me give you the only reason as a black African myself : I will not hire you even if your years of experience equals the total experience of the employees in my organization because of your ‘stupid’ braids. Those braids on a man’s head has no place in the corporate world. How are you going to justify when you decide to sue me? Because it is not based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age.

    Jeez, Africans when we sue let’s do it with confidence, i mean in millions not an average person’s annual salary ($~85K).

  5. Thank you, i am black but some black people like bringing the race card to much. for every little thing racist bla bla, How can the african Cv not have the relevant working experience, and the british alias have the qualified working experience. it doesnt make sense. like the virgin representive said he should have used different names with the same working experience

  6. When will Africans stop playing victim in this world? Its getting annoying.Geez.
    It could simply mean that timing was bad with the first application.

    1. @Rocky, thanks Rocky… and even if both applications went in and were being looked at at the same time, the different info in them will yield different results. Stupid man