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Conscient Leaders: Interview with Roya Vasseghi

by | Jun 4, 2021

In our latest Conscient Leaders interview, we talk with Roya Vasseghi, Owner of Vasseghi Law PLLC, about employment legalities in a post-pandemic workforce.

Read the full transcipt below.

Hannah:
Hello, everyone. Welcome to our next installment of Conscient Leaders. I’m so excited to be joined today by Roya Vasseghi of Vasseghi Law. Roya, do you want to tell our friends and listeners a little bit about you and about your law firm?

Roya:
My name is Roy Vasseghi. I have my own law firm, Vasseghi Law PLLC in Fairfax. One of the major areas of my practice is employment law. Um, so I work with employers mostly on their compliance with the changing employment laws, training, investigations, if they need it.

Hannah:
We have so many clients who are really struggling with some of the return to work and, um, and just managing the ebb and flow of the pandemic that I thought it would be great to talk to you a little bit about some of the things you’re seeing in your practice and some of the legal perspective on how corporations take themselves forward in this fairly murky environment. When you’re in an office setting, people have the ability for the informal mentorship in informal discussions with superiors and the people who are on video and who have chosen to stay home for safety reasons don’t have that informal or more like on the go get to know people, um, that luxury, I guess you could call it. Um, and so then when it comes to promotions and salary increases, how do you compare the two people who presumably are both up for the same promotion, but one hasn’t been necessarily been afforded the same opportunities just by nature of being in the office or not being in the office?

Roya:
From the company standpoint, they’re going to have to try to keep, you know, they can’t just say out of sight, out of mind and then wait for the performance evaluation to say, well, I haven’t seen insert name, you know, so-and-so, um, Jane we’ll say Jane, I haven’t seen Jane for the past six months. I don’t know if she’s doing her job. Uh, we’re going to give the promotion to her next door neighbor who comes into the office everyday. Like I think that would be, um, pretty clear discrimination and preferential treatment, assuming, everything, assuming all else is equal or, you know, just as you’ve said that they’re getting the opportunity, the other ones, their coworkers getting the opportunity because they’re in the office. Um, in an ideal world, you have managers that are, that are good managers and they’re giving just as much attention to their in-person colleagues as they are to the people that are on zoom.

They’ve got regular check-ins, they’ve got ways of communicating with their remote employees. I mean, like by phone, good old fashioned phones so that they’re making sure to keep those, um, those employees that are working at home in the loop and making sure that they’re still getting projects, assignments and things like that that are preferable. I mean, the, a lot of it is also gonna, you know, that’s from the employer standpoint. Unfortunately, you’re going to have really great people that can work from home and are really good at saying engaged, and you’re going to have the people that just kind of put their head down and do their work, and they don’t know how to be engaged, and it’s really on the company and the managers to make sure that they’re keeping those people engaged and not indirectly or inadvertently discriminating against them or treating them differently because of whatever conditions kept them at home.

Hannah:
I’m curious, um, it’s not illegal to require vaccinations of your employees. However, it is not necessarily recommended as it could be seen as discriminatory?

Roya:
It can, it can be illegal. You can, you can have a mandatory vaccine policy, but you have to do it recognizing that there will be, um, exemptions, medical exemptions to that mandatory vaccine policy, and you’ve got to make sure to get that information, um, you know, make, put that information out with your policy so that your employees understand that they are not obligated if, if there are certain conditions that prevent them from getting a vaccine that they’re not going to lose their job, that they don’t have to get the vaccine. There is an exemption, and then there are religious exemptions as well. Um, that also has to be clearly communicated with the policy I have been recommending. Um, and some people, some companies have been doing mandatory vaccines. I have just been recommending to strongly encourage the employees to get it and not make it mandatory, to avoid kind of having to solicit, you know, accidentally solicit medical information that you shouldn’t have as an employer that you shouldn’t have had access to and then now you’re, you know. People are very casual about the vaccine thing, right. Um, have you been vaccinated? Like I ask that question all the time in my circles, but as an employer, I would think twice before I just, you know, jump into that conversation or divide my employees based on who’s been vaccinated and who’s not been vaccinated. There are ways to do the mandatory policy, but employers just have to be really careful, um, about how they administer it and the information that they’re getting back.

Hannah:
What else might business leaders want to take into account as they’re thinking through considerations for a hybrid work environment or a total virtual work environment.

Roya:
If the employers are requiring everybody to come back into the office and people want to stay behind and have remote work as an accommodation because they’ve been able to do it for the past 12, 14 months, um, there is guidance that says just because there’s been remote work in a pandemic, it doesn’t mean that that needs to be a permanent accommodation. I think a lot of those questions are going to be coming up. So why, why do you need the accommodation? Um, I think it’s going to be really hard for employers to say if the accommodation is actually necessary. I think it’s going to be hard for employers who have been remote working and providing remote work opportunity to go back and say, we can’t do that because we’re not equipped because it happened, and we were all just fine. Uh, but I think there’s going to be a lot of requests like that, a lot of issues that employers are working through, as far as the, you know, when they want to bring people back in the office, having the request to stay permanently working from home.

Hannah:
Roya, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us today. Um, this was fascinating to hear some of the things that you’re running into in your practice and I do love how the things you work on and the things we work on overlap, so, so nicely. Um, thank you everybody for tuning in, and we look forward to talking with other Conscient Leaders in the next few months.

 

About Vasseghi Law:

Vasseghi Law PLLC is a business and employment law firm located in Fairfax, Virginia. Roya Vasseghi founded Vasseghi Law after honing her advocacy skills working for several prominent Northern Virginia and national firms. Vasseghi Law’s services range from civil litigation to employment counseling. Roya represents individuals and companies in a wide range of civil disputes including employment-related claims, contract disputes, and partnership disputes. Roya also works with her clients to stay on top of changing employment laws and regulations with an eye toward avoiding costly litigation. Learn more at vasseghilaw.com.

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