No one — including Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppleman — rejects the struggles of former Yelp employee Talia Jane, which she detailed in an open letter to Stoppleman on Medium outlining how hard it is to pay her rent, buy groceries (she can’t even afford bread and lives on rice and water) or even drive to work in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Tales of how excruciatingly expensive the Bay Area is are pretty rampant these days, so Talia Jane’s post from Friday hardly comes as a surprise.
"I haven't bought groceries since I started this job,” the 25-year-old customer service rep for Eat24, which Yelp bought for $124 million last year, wrote on Friday. “Bread is a luxury to me, even though you've got a whole fridge full of it on the 8th floor. But we're not allowed to take any of that home because it's for at-work eating."
Talia Jane claims that Yelp responded to her post by firing her:
“This was entirely unplanned (but I guess not completely unexpected?) but any help until I find new employment would be extremely appreciated,” she wrote in an update to the Medium post, later tweeting that she was told by human resources and her manager that "the letter violated Yelp's 'Terms of Conduct.'"
Stoppleman lent his voice to Talia Jane's frustrations — as did Yelp — but stopped short of offering any kind of of a pay increase to employees.
“Late last night I read Talia's medium contribution and want to acknowledge her point that the cost of living in SF is far too high,” Stoppleman tweeted Saturday. “I've not been personally involved in Talia being let go and it was not because she posted a Medium letter directed at me.”
“We do not comment on personnel matters,” a Yelp spokesperson said Monday, when asked to comment on Talia’s assertions that she was fired for writing the Medium post. “However, we did agree with many of the points in the post and thought it served as an important example of Ms. Ben-Ora's freedom of speech." (Talia Ben-Ora is Talia Jane’s legal name.)
“We agree with her remarks 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 we will pay the same wage.”
The millennials who live in San Francisco have the second-highest median income in the country, according to a recent study by personal finance firm SmartAsset.
The Internet continues to respond to Talia Jane’s post with mixed reviews, with some calling her “brave” for not accepting her work conditions. Others advised her against posting scathing letters to her CEO next time.
One Twitter user criticized Stoppleman's response, calling it a "symptom of corporate cancer."
In the meantime, Talia Jane is accepting donations.