Re-defining the productive worker: Professor Ravi Malhotra explores how workers with disabilities experience time

Faculty of Law - Common Law Section
Research
Disability rights

By Common Law

Communication, Faculty of Law

Ravi Malhotra and image of a clock
In Canada, the duty to accommodate workers with disabilities is rooted in human rights jurisprudence. This legal duty requires all employers to accommodate workers up to the point of undue hardship. But recent census data indicate that people with disabilities still experience high levels of poverty and unemployment. The duty to accommodate is significant for a large proportion of the workforce who live with disabilities, but in practice, its implementation is still challenged by traditional perceptions of what it is to be a “productive worker”.

Professor Ravi Malhotra is interested in tackling this disparity by exploring how the experience of time differs for workers with disabilities. He has earned an Insight Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) to develop a new understanding of the role that time plays in the lives of people with disabilities, which will help in formulating a revised duty to accommodate, one that will better serve the interests of the disability community.

The project, entitled “Crip Time, Law and the Duty to Accommodate: Toward a Legal-Materialist Understanding of the Lives of Workers with Disabilities” draws its name from a concept arising from disabled experience – “crip time” – that addresses the ways that disabled, chronically ill and neurodivergent people experience time (and space) differently than able-bodied people. Building on his past research on disability rights as well as his proven expertise in disability studies, Professor Malhotra’s new project will examine the barriers faced by workers with disabilities in the modern Canadian workplace, with a particular focus on their day-to-day experiences with disability accommodation and their conceptions of time. Ultimately the project aims to develop best practices that employers and disability organizations can readily implement to benefit people with disabilities and Canadian society as a whole.

SSHRC’s Insight Grants aim to support and foster excellence in social sciences and humanities research that aims to deepen, widen and increase our collective understanding of individuals and societies, as well as to inform the search for solutions to societal challenges.

Congratulations to Professor Malhotra!