An open letter published by a disgruntled employee has sparked an online debate over employee expectations and tech companies’ practices.
On Saturday, a former Yelp/Eat24 employee who goes by the pen name “Talia Jane” published a letter to the company’s chief executive, Jeremy Stoppelman, via Medium.
The letter soon went viral because of Jane’s depiction of Eat24’s customer service employees’ inability to make ends meet given San Francisco’s high cost
of living. The post includes scathing entries like this:
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. One of them started a GoFundMe because she couldn’t pay her
rent. She ended up leaving the company and moving east, somewhere the minimum wage could double as a living wage. Another wrote on those neat whiteboards
we’ve got on every floor begging for help because he was bound to be homeless in two weeks. Fortunately, someone helped him out. At least, I think they
did. I actually haven’t seen him in the past few months. Do you think he’s okay? Another guy who got hired, and ultimately let go, was undoubtedly
homeless. He brought a big bag with him and stocked up on all those snacks you make sure are on every floor (except on the weekends when the customer
support team is working, because we’re what makes Eat24 24-hours, 7 days a week but the team who comes to stock up those snacks in the early hours during
my shift are only there Mondays through Fridays, excluding holidays. They get holidays and weekends off! Can you imagine?). By and large,
our floor pummels through those snacks the fastest and has to roam other floors to find something to eat. Is it because we’re gluttons? Maybe. If you
starve a pack of wolves and toss them a single steak, will they rip each other to shreds fighting over it? Definitely.
Shortly after the letter was published—and social media discussion rose—Jane was fired.
Yelp issued the following statement to Business Insider:
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.
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.
Jane didn’t mention a relocation, but told Business Insider that the company was aware of her struggles:
I brought up the wages in every quarterly meeting I had with my managers. They were well aware that I was struggling despite doing what I could with what I
The crisis continued to grow after Jane’s dismissal, as online conversations intensified.
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Some people lashed out at Jane for complaining about her entry-level job and appearing to feel entitled. Meanwhile, many Twitter users heaped criticism on
Yelp for firing Jane instead of addressing the disparity between the area’s steep cost of living and the company’s entry-level wages.
On Saturday night, Stoppelman replied to the growing backlash with a series of tweets:
Though some supported Stoppelman’s statements, many were angered by his seemingly insensitive response:
Neither Yelp/Eat24 nor Stoppelman has made any additional statements.
Jane is continuing to tweet about her experience, thanking supporters, responding to criticism and standing
her ground on raising employees’ wages:
How do you feel the company and its leader are handling the backlash, PR Daily readers?