The 20 Nigerian cabin crew members recently laid off by Virgin Atlantic Airways Limited have instituted a N5 billion suit on the Airline at the division of the National Industrial Court.
Joined as co-respondent in the suit is the Aviation Logistics and Management Limited.
The sacked cabin crew members in a motion on notice filed by their lawyer, Chief Felix Fagbohungbe, SAN, are seeking for an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the respondents from laying them off or giving effects to the notice of termination of employment served on them pending the hearing and determination of the suit.
They are also seeking the suspension of the notice of termination of employment served on them pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.
They are equally seeking for an order of the court directing the respondents to pay them the sum of N5 billion as damages for the act of discrimination against them.
The 20 cabin crew members included: Genevieve Mordi, Umo Akinselure, Lukman Yusuf, Ekaete Victor-Iyamu, Victoria Enyi, George Ezemba, James Ajayi, Rosemary Ogbor, Babajide Akinyele and Remilekun Lashebikan.
Others are: Yewande Salau, David Dagat, Babafemi Oshifeko, Babatunde Olamuye, Juliet Ezumba, Rachel Ideho, Ademola Olowolade, Imelda Blankson, Halimat Odeyemi and Tolumilade Sogbesan.
They were all laid off on November 30, 2015, following an internal memo issued by the Executive Vice President, Customer, of the Airline, Jill Brady.
In the memo, it was disclosed that the provision of cultural expertise which was the primary purpose of employing the claimants was no longer required by the Airline on its Lagos-London route.
However, in a 36 paragraph affidavit in support of the motion on notice which was deposed to by one of the plaintiffs, Umo Akinselure, it was averred that the claimants were never informed by any of the respondents that the sole reason for their employment was to provide cultural expertise in respect the Airline’s flight operations on the Lagos-London route.
It was further averred that no survey was ever conducted by the Airline which revealed that the cultural expertise provided by the claimants in respect of its Lagos-London route is no longer required.
The deponent averred that the Airline’s intention to terminate the employment of the claimants was based solely on their race, colour and social extraction.
It was further averred that the Airline has consistently and persistently taken actions which are discriminatory, oppressive and detrimental to the interest of the claimants as Nigerians and Nigeria as a country.
The Lagos-London route was said to be the most commercially viable and most profitable route for the Airline.