“Big Brother Australia” former housemate Ben Zabel finally spoke up on the real reason why he lost his job. The pyjama-loving reality show contestant was let go from his job as flight attendant from Virgin Australia because he suffered from severe anxiety and depression.
On Wednesday, Ben, who finished ninth place in the Channel Nine program, shared told his over 144,000 followers on Facebook why he was jobless by the time he entered the famous house in 2013.
“A year ago I was ‘dismissed’ from Virgin Australia as I suffered severe anxiety & depression, & was no longer ‘fit’ to fly,” Ben wrote, playfully adding an aeroplane icon on his post.
He was let go five months before his ten-year anniversary in the company, which would have qualified him for benefits, including a free return trip for two to the U.S.
Not long after he posted his revelation, thousands of Facebook users have commented, some were his fans who applaud his decision to speak up. However, there were also those who criticised Ben for allegedly trying to shame Virgin Australia or perhaps attempting to extend his “15 minutes of fame” by drawing attention to himself.
He assured the commenters that neither was his intention, though.
In another post, he explained that he only did that because there are people who keep asking him if he ever considered returning to being a flight steward.
“I use to just make a joke & fob the question away, as I was too embarrassed to admit, anxiety & depression got the better of me in my workplace. I then felt like I was lying to myself & lying to all of you by not telling you the full story.”
He continued (all sic), “I’m choosing to speak up now, because as the new series of Big Brother looms on the horizon, my preverbal ’15 minutes of fame,’ will truly be up, & I wanted to help those suffering with mental illness, while I still had a ‘voice.’”
Ben admitted to news.com.au, though, that he was disappointed by how Virgin handled his dismissal.
“I did nine and a half years without break, continued full time service. I knew that I was entitled to long service leave,” he told the Web site.
He wrote a personal letter to Virgin CEO John Borghetti about his situation. He did receive a verbal apology from the company, but that still didn’t help him land another job with them.
He applied for a total of seven ground jobs with the company, but he was told he did not qualify for any of them.
“It was clear that my medical record had been shared among the HR department but I can’t prove that, that’s big business,” he said.
“Legally they did nothing wrong. Morally they might have a duty of care, but they didn’t try to find me anything, it doesn’t make them look good.”
Jobless, Ben joined “Big Brother Australia,” which subsequently earned him thousands of supporters. He might not have won the show (that privilege went to Tim Dormer), but he was able to land a showbiz job after his stint from the show.
He now heads his segment Ben’s Movie Wrap on Channel Nine’s “Mornings.”