Your Rights When You're Applying for a Job

This article was produced by CLS, GHLA, NHLAA, and SLS.

Your Rights When You're Applying for a Job

This booklet will tell you about your rights as a job applicant if

  • you have a criminal record,
  • an employer wants to drug test you,
  • you have a disability,
  • you are pregnant,
  • you think you’re being discriminated against, or
  • you need legal help and information.

Criminal Records

Should I mention my criminal record on my application?

You should not lie about your criminal record, but do not give more information than the application asks.

  • If you are asked if you have any felonies but you only have misdemeanors, answer “No.”
  • If you are asked to list any convictions during the last 10 years, don’t list convictions that happened more than 10 years ago.
  • If you must talk about your criminal record, also explain how you have changed and what you learned from your experience.

Where can I learn more about working with a criminal record?

For more information, read the legal aid booklet, Is Your Criminal Record Keeping You from Working?

Drug Testing

Can a potential employer make me take a drug test?

Yes, but he or she must give you written notice first. If the test is positive, you must be given a second test to make sure that the first one was accurate.

You have the right to a copy of the test results, which cannot be shared with anyone by the employer.

Disabilities

Do I have to tell someone who is interviewing me that I have a disability?

No. You do not have to talk about your disability at the interview or even after you are hired. 

Can an employer treat me differently because I have a disability?

A potential employer cannot

  • ask you if you have a disability,
  • make you take a medical exam (unless they offer you the job), or
  • refuse to hire you (unless they are unable to make reasonable changes so that you can work there).

A potential employer can ask if you are able to perform job duties.

What if I need an employer to change something so I can do the job I’m applying for?

Tell the employer what you need changed and why. The employer must make the change unless you ask for something that is unreasonable.

Note: Your employer has the right to make a change that is different from the one you ask for, as long as it is a reasonable solution that works for you. For more information on the Americans with Disabilities Act, go to www.ada.gov.

What kinds of changes are considered reasonable?

Reasonable changes are changes that would help someone with a disability to do or apply for a job. If the employer can prove that the changes would cause extreme hardship, the changes are not reasonable.

For example, reasonable changes could include

  • changing your schedule;
  • changing the equipment you use, such as your chair or telephone;
  • changing your duties; or
  • hiring an interpreter or a reader so you can do your job.

What if the employer won’t make a reasonable change?

If an employer says a­­­­­ change you asked for would cause extreme hardship, call Statewide Legal Services at 1-800-453-3320 or 860-344-0380.

What if I don’t get hired because I have a disability?

If you are qualified for a job and have a disability, the law protects you against discrimination. Qualified means you can do the job if the employer makes reasonable changes in the workplace.

The law also protects you if

  • the employer thinks you have a disability, or
  •  you have a chronic health problem, even one that does not impact an important life activity.

If you think you have been treated unfairly, you should file a complaint immediately. Continue reading for more information on how to file a complaint.

Pregnancy

Do I have to tell a potential employer that I am pregnant?

No. An employer cannot ask you about your pregnancy unless it is directly related to the job you are applying for.

For more information, read the legal aid booklet, Pregnancy and Work.

Discrimination

What if I don’t get hired because of discrimination?

If you believe you were not hired or were fired because of discrimination, you can file a complaint.

Your complaint must show that you were treated differently and unfairly because of your

  • race, color, ancestry, national origin;
  • religion, marital status, sexual orientation;
  • age, sex, gender identity or expression;
  • pregnancy;
  • or disability (physical or mental).

How do I file a complaint?

These agencies can help you with filing a complaint:

  • The CT Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities. Call them at 1-800-477-5737 or 860-541-3400 or visit their website: www.ct.gov/chro.
  • The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Call them at 1-800-669-4000 or visit their website at www.eeoc.gov.

You do not need a lawyer to file a complaint.

Is there a deadline to file a complaint?

Yes. You have 180 days after the most recent discrimination to file your complaint.

For more information, contact:

Statewide Legal Services: 860-344-0380 (Central CT & Middletown) or 1-800-453-3320 (all other regions).

For people over 60, click here to get help from legal aid.

Not from Connecticut?

Most of the information on this website is for Connecticut residents only.
Find help in another state.