Pilot loses 'racist culture' case against BA

Allegations over offensive cockpit banter led to employment tribunal

A British Airways pilot who blew the whistle on what he called a "canteen culture of racism" among fellow pilots is facing a £4,400 legal bill after losing a battle with the airline at an employment tribunal. Captain Doug Maughan claims he has been continuously victimised by BA since he spoke to The Independent about the casual racism of older pilots working for the company that calls itself "the world's favourite airline".

Captain Maughan, whose wife is Asian, objected to hearing the words "coon" and "ragheads" used in conversation in the cockpit. He had complained to BA's management but, because they did nothing about his concerns, he turned to The Independent. He told the newspaper that older BA pilots casually used racist language in private. His allegations were particularly embarrassing for an airline that operates on every continent.

Captain Maughan, who has 29 years' flying experience, suggested that, because 99 per cent of BA pilots are white and most spend their whole working lives with the company, there was an attitude among older pilots in particular that racist remarks were acceptable.

He lodged his first complaint after hearing a senior pilot say "coon" during a training session on a flight simulator. He also complained that during a flight to Los Angeles, when there was a large party of Saudis on board, the pilot began "an extraordinary rant" in the cockpit about "ragheads".

After the article was published, in April 2008, Captain Maughan said that he was threatened over the telephone by someone who claimed to know where he lived. He said he believed it must have been a fellow pilot, because only someone with access to the pilots' duty roster could have traced him to Singapore, where he was staying overnight. He alleges that when he reported this incident, verbally, to BA, they did not take it seriously. Since then, his relationship with his employer has deteriorated and he has been issued with a final written warning. BA has not yet disclosed publicly the substance of their complaint against the pilot. He claims the warning is part of a campaign of victimisation.

He went to tribunal, representing himself, alleging victimisation under the Race Relations Act but was defeated on a legal technicality yesterday and ordered to pay £4,400 towards BA's legal fees.

He told the tribunal: "There was continuous victimisation, a number of episodes over a period of time, which became more intense after the article in The Independent. I had complained a number of times about the canteen culture of racism in BA."

The judge, Mr David Cockburn, ruled that the tribunal had no discretion to hear Captain Maughan's complaint under the Race Relations Act after he had "candidly" accepted that he had not put his complaints to BA in writing. He also accepted BA's argument that it was "unreasonable" to have brought a case to a tribunal that was not based on a written grievance, and awarded them costs.

But he also ordered a two-day hearing in June so Captain Maughan can appeal against the final written warning from BA. He is expected to fight that by representing himself again, after Balpa, the pilots' union, rejected his plea for legal assistance. BA said Captain Maughan had a duty to provide details of any racist conduct directly to the airline.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'