Yelp Worker: I Had to Live on Rice and Water

Talia Jane says she got fired for complaining about wages
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 21, 2016 3:30 PM CST
Yelp Worker Protests Low Wages, Gets Fired
In this 2012 photo, Jeremy Stoppelman of Yelp salutes during opening bell ceremonies of the New York Stock Exchange.   (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

A Yelp employee who complained about having to live in near-poverty conditions has a new problem—she needs a job. Talia Jane wrote an open letter to CEO Jeremy Stoppelman on Friday seeking higher compensation and detailing her struggles to afford food, rent, and transportation in San Francisco, and got fired hours later, Re/code reports. "My manager and HR told me the letter and what I wrote violated Yelp’s terms of conduct," she tells BuzzFeed. Stoppelman tweeted that he wasn't involved in her firing and "it was not because she posted a ... letter directed at me." Either way, the letter has drawn attention for its depiction of life with an entry-level customer-support position at Eat24, Yelp's food delivery service, in one of America's most expensive cities. Seems Jane lived mostly on rice and water, slept fully clothed because she couldn't afford heat, and put 80% of her bi-weekly $733.24 check toward rent. (She netted $8.15 an hour.)

"So here I am, 25 years old, balancing all sorts of debt and trying to pave a life for myself that doesn’t involve crying in the bathtub every week," she writes in the 2,392-word letter. "Every single one of my coworkers is struggling. They’re taking side jobs, they’re living at home." So did Yelp overreact? A Forbes blogger says the letter has "a condescending tone replete with a smug, accusatory naïveté," and a Reddit user accuses Jane of posting "unprofessional" tweets before the letter. But Stoppelman concedes Jane's point that "the cost of living in SF is far too high" and proposes expanding Eat 24's operations in Phoenix as a solution. Jane, who is accepting donations, doesn't seem impressed: "Yelp is trying to make this die down by lying about it," she says. "Things have just exploded." (A San Francisco "tech bro" called for the city to deal with homeless "riff raff.")

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