Max Kpakio, a 36-year-old refugee from Liberia, is accusing Virgin Atlantic for racial discrimination after his application for a job in the call centre was rejected.

Max, who has lived in Wales for 10 years, applied for the call centre role using his own named but was turned down for the job. He then applied again, this time under the name of Craig Owen – and was asked to attend an interview up to eight times.

Talking to Wales Online, Max said:

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.

In his original CV under his own name, Max stated that he had a degree in international relations and that he had done paid and voluntary work in which he had experience with offering customer advice over the phone.

After receiving a rejection letter saying that the company had received a high number of applications, Max thought it strange seeing as he was the only person in the presentation that was of ethnic minority origin.

He then re-applied for the job under the made up name, Craig Owen, with a much shorter CV and this time included job experience stating he had worked at Tesco and Asda.

His second CV got a positive response, inviting “Craig” for an interview, but when Max didn’t reply to Virgin Atlantic they contacted him a further “seven or eight times” and sent him emails concerned that they had not yet heard from him regarding an interview.

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.

There will be an employment tribunal regarding this case in April this year.

Sadly, this is not the first we’ve heard of such an incident but hopefully with all the reports coming out, it’ll be the last.