Rights of Job Applicants

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

Rights of Job Applicants

Read on to learn about your rights when applying for a job 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.

Should I say I have a criminal record on my application?

Do not lie, but do not give more information than the question asks.

Here are some examples:

  • 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 have to talk about your criminal record, also explain what you learned from your experience, and say how you have changed.

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

Read our booklet, Is Your Criminal Record Keeping You From Working?

Can a potential employer make me take a drug test when I apply?

Yes. But first he or she must give you written notice. If the test is positive, you must have a second test to make sure the first test was accurate.

You have a right to get a copy of the test results, and the employer can’t share your test results with anyone else.

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 you can work there.

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

Do I have to tell my employer about my disability?

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

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

Tell the employer what you need changed and why. Unless you ask for something that is unreasonable, the employer must change it.

What kinds of changes are reasonable?

Changes that would help you do (or apply for) your job are reasonable. If the employer can prove that the changes would cause extreme hardship, the changes are not reasonable.

For example, reasonable changes include

  • changing your schedule;
  • changing the equipment you use, like a chair or telephone; or
  • changing your duties.

The employer may also give you support, like an interpreter or reader, so you can do your job.

What if the employer refuses to make a reasonable change?

Call Statewide Legal Services at 1-800-453-3320 or 860-344-0380 if your employer (or a potential employer) says the change would cause extreme hardship.

Note: Your employer has the right to make a different change than the one you ask for, as long as it works and it is a reasonable solution. For more information on the ADA, go to http://www.mindlink.org/online_courses/ada_4.html.

What if I don’t get the job because of my 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.

State law also protects you if you have a chronic health problem, even if it does not impact an important life activity.

If you think you have been treated unfairly, you should file a complaint immediately:

  • The CT Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (1-800-477-5737)
  • The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (1-800-669-4000)

There are time limits, so file your complaint right away. You do not need a lawyer to file a complaint.

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

No. Your employer cannot ask you about your pregnancy unless it is directly related to your job.

Read our flyer, Pregnancy and Work.

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; or
  • pregnancy or disability (physical or mental).

Where do I file a complaint?

  • The CT Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (1-800-477-5737 or 1-860-541-3400)
  • The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (1-800-669-4000).

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.

Can I get help filing a discrimination complaint?

Yes. You can get help from the CT Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO).



Or talk to a lawyer.

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 web site is for Connecticut residents only.
Visit LawHelp.org to find a legal services program and/or a legal information web site in your area.