An employment tribunal has upheld that an employer who rejected a job candidate for a marketing role for being overqualified did not commit age discrimination.

In a recent case of Jones v Care UK Clinical Services Ltd, the employment tribunal held that it was not discriminatory for a company to reject a candidate for being overqualified.

A number of candidates were interviewed during the process, but a more suitable candidate scored higher than Mr Jones. Mr Jones, confident in his experience and know-how, went to the employment tribunal to argue that he should have got the job and that he wasn’t chosen for the role due to his age, under the Equality Act 2010.

However, when the judge assessed the reasons why Mr Jones wasn’t offered the job, the following reasons were found to be fair –
• Skills in relation to engagement with stakeholders that were beyond what was needed;
• Expectations of his development in the job that could not be fulfilled because of the constraints of the role.

Mr Jones disagreed with the above, arguing that he was treated less favourably due to his age (51 years old) compared with the successful candidate (29 years old). The potential employer claimed that age had not played any factor in the selection process and that the appointment decision was based on the candidate’s comparative interview responses and scores.

Many companies are not aware that candidates applying for jobs are able to make a claim against a potential employer. In other words, at the point at which a potential employer considers applicants for a role, including inviting them in for an interview, every care must be taken in choosing fairly but also keeping a good record of the reasons why a person is chosen or rejected.

This case shows us that in having proper notes at the end of the interview process, the company were able to properly defend itself against any argument that age had a role to play in their selection process. If they did not have these, it may well have worked against them for Mr Jones did have strong experience in this field. Japanese companies in particular, must always be mindful of the wording they use to seek Japanese language skills or particular experience (such as previous experience at a Japanese company), that it is not worded in a way that could be seen to be race discriminatory.

Even if candidates do not have good grounds for making a claim against an employer, defending a claim can take time, effort, and money – which can be extremely disruptive to business.
For further information, please contact Koichiro Nakada – Head of Japan Business Group ( and Yoko Nakada - Senior Associate, Deputy Head of Japan Business Group (
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