Talia Jane: Yelp employee speaks after being 'fired for posting open letter about living wage to CEO'

The 25-year-old said she made $12.25 an hour and spent 80 per cent of that on rent

A Yelp customer service employee has spoken out after she was allegedly fired for posting an open letter about the living wage. 

Talia Jane received widespread attention over her letter to CEO Jeremy Stoppelman which claimed her low pay meant she struggled to afford rent and travel costs in the Bay Area – an expensive part of San Francisco. 

The 25-year-old English Literature graduate said she made $12.25 an hour ($8.15 after tax), and spent 80 per cent of that on rent.

In her letter, she claimed that she “hadn’t bought groceries” since she started the job because she had been living off a large bag of rice.

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Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman listens to Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt during a US Senate Judiciary hearing on alleged anti-competitive practices by Google in 2011

Two hours after the letter was posted online, she was fired. The company said her termination was not related to the letter, however Ms Jane claimed that she was told by Yelp’s HR department that her letter violated company terms of conduct. 

"I was told on the phone the letter violated Yelp’s code of conduct," she told Quartz.

After her story made the news, Ms Jane began receiving abuse on social media from people who accused her of exaggerating her financial situation by sending her pictures from her Instagram account of food and drink.

"I only want to post stuff on Instagram that makes it seem like I’m thriving, even though I’m not, because I don’t want people to worry about me," she said.

However many have also praised Ms Jane for being brave enough to challenge her former employers over the issue, she claimed.

"I’ve had so many people who say ‘thank you for writing this’ or “stay strong," she said.

Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman has addressed Ms Jane’s dismissal on Twitter where he said that he had not been personally involved in her case, and that the dismissal was not because she posted a Medium letter directed at him. 

A spokesman at Yelp also told Buzzfeed News: “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 of what it’s like to live in the Bay Area… 

"Which is why we are expanding our Eat24 customer support team into our Phoenix office where we will pay the same wage."

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