Liberian man claims he wasn't offered a job by Virgin Atlantic because of his African name

He claims when he sent a worse CV with an English name, he was offered an interview and treated differently

A graduate has told an employment tribunal that he was discriminated against by Virgin Atlantic because of his African name.

Max Kpakio, 36, who moved to Wales to escape civil war in Liberia, had intended to pursue Sir Richard Branson’s airline for £55,000 for race discrimination at an employment tribunal in Cardiff. But at the hearing yesterday he said he did not want a penny from Virgin and claimed he was acting out of principle.

The refugee, who was born in Liberia and moved to Britain 10 years ago and has since earned a degree in International Relations at Swansea University, claimed his application to work at one of the company’s call centres was rejected at the first stage when submitted with his real name.

Kpakio said he changed his name to Craig Owen and sent in a less detailed CV in which he simplified his work experience and made several intentional spelling mistakes, and was immediately offered an interview.

Representatives for Richard Branson’s travel company strongly denied Kpakio’s claims, insisting it was an equal opportunities employer.

Senior staff said the two CVs were significantly different and Mr Owen's application showed better experience than Mr Kpakio's.

Representing the company, Alexander Robson said the case should never have reached the tribunal process.

He said: “There is plainly a sufficient difference between the two CVs.

”It would have been a very different case had there been no differences other than just the names. The CVs are miles apart - it's not even a fair comparison.“

Kpakio, who has been granted citizenship in the UK, previously said: “There was a huge difference in the way I was treated when I used a British name.

“When I was first sent a rejection, I couldn’t understand it. I thought I had provided a very good CV. I had offered advice to clients over the telephone before, so I believed I was a very good candidate for the job.”

Once he reapplied as Craig Owen, Kpakio claimed the company’s attitude changed: “They were in touch with me seven or eight times, and kept coming back to me when I didn’t respond.”

Kpakio was told by Judge Sharp: ”This tribunal does not have the power to order Virgin Atlantic to give you a job or to apologise to you.

“All we could do if we found in your favour was to award compensation and recommend that Virgin Atlantic changes its practices so the same thing could not happen again.”

Virgin Atlantic denies the charge, and the case continues.

News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Sport
Rio Ferdinand returns for QPR
sportRio Ferdinand returns from his three-game suspension today
News
The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
arts + ents
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
Sport
Billy Twelvetrees will start for England against Australia tomorrow with Owen Farrell dropping to the bench
rugbyEngland need a victory against Australia today
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
Sport
Tyson Fury poses outside the Imperial War Museum in south London ahead of his fight against Dereck Chisora
boxingAll British heavyweight clash gets underway on Saturday night
News
i100 Charity collates series of videos that show acts of kindness to animals
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game