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Yelp Customer Service Employee Protests Low Pay in Medium Post, Is Promptly Fired

A post on Medium touches on high cost of housing in Bay Area, explodes on Internet.

Spencer Platt | Getty Images

Late on Friday afternoon, Talia Jane, a customer service employee for Yelp, penned a letter to CEO Jeremy Stoppelman on Medium condemning the company for its low pay.

Less than two hours later, Jane wrote on Twitter that she had been fired for writing the post.

Her post ricocheted around the Internet (her account trended on Twitter in San Francisco), as it was a rare public censure of company exec, and it touches on the sensitive issue of high housing costs in the Bay Area. Her claims also fly in the face of the standard view of tech employees as coddled and overpaid.

On Saturday, Stoppelman took to Twitter to address the post, signaling that the company would like to make the issue around housing costs, rather than Yelp. “[P]lease put down the pitchforks,” the CEO wrote.

A Yelp spokesperson echoed Stoppelman’s comments in a note: “We do not comment on personnel issues. However, we did agree with many of the points in Ms. Jane’s post and we viewed it as her real, personal narrative about what it’s like to live in the Bay Area. Most importantly, it’s an important example of freedom of speech.”

On Twitter and in comments to Re/code, Jane said that she was a fired because her post violated Yelp’s terms of conduct. Stoppelman countered that on Twitter, claiming that her firing was not related to the post.

Jane started working as a customer service exec for Eat24, the delivery service owned by Yelp, in August. In her post, a lengthy, damning screed, she tears into Stoppelman for the low pay and retention rate of employees in her position:

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. Every single one of my coworkers is struggling. They’re taking side jobs, they’re living at home.

Jane wrote that she earned a biweekly check, of $733.24 and spent more than 80 percent of that for housing.

Yelp reps declined to comment on salary specifics. On Glassdoor, the company review site, salaries for “junior account executives” at Yelp are listed at $35,913. For GrubHub, a comparably valued company, salaries for “sales executives” and “online sales executives” are listed at $39,000 and $30,913, respectively.

On Jane’s points about cost of living, a Yelp rep wrote: “We agree with her comments about the high costs of living in San Francisco, which is why we announced in December that we are expanding our Eat24 customer support team into our Phoenix office where will pay the same wage.”

In a message, Jane said she did not anticipate the reception to her post, both from the Internet and Yelp.

“I honestly anticipated something like five hearts on the letter and maybe one reply from someone I know,” she said. “Definitely didn’t anticipate anything beyond that.”

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