After posting a heartbreaking open letter to Yelp’s CEO Jeremy Stoppelman about how impossible it was to live on her paltry wages, a Yelp employee named Talia Jane was fired.
The post, on Medium, narrated the difficulties and indignities of daily life in one of America’s most expensive cities for the people not blessed with stock options who are powering the tech explosion. Jane worked in customer service at Yelp and Eat24, a food delivery company that Yelp purchased in 2015 for $134 million:
I got paid yesterday ($733.24, bi-weekly) but I have to save as much of that as possible to pay my rent ($1245) for my apartment that’s 30 miles away from work because it was the cheapest place I could find that had access to the train, which costs me $5.65 one way to get to work. That’s $11.30 a day, by the way. I make $8.15 an hour after taxes. I also have to pay my gas and electric bill. Last month it was $120.
San Francisco’s minimum wage is $12.25 an hour, pre-tax, so it appears that Jane is making just slightly more than that.
In a statement, Yelp said it won’t comment on why she was fired (but insists it had nothing to do with the letter), but does agree that it’s expensive to live in San Francisco–though doesn’t acknowledge that it may be partly responsible for that state of affairs.
How is the company going to solve the problem? By paying its employees more? Definitely not. By working with the city it occupies to build more affordable housing? Not on the table. Instead, it’s simply going to move these jobs to Arizona, where the same money will take the employees a little farther (but still not very far). The better-compensated employees, of course, still get to live in San Francisco.
The CEO expressed the free-market dogma of this decision on Twitter:
This whole saga is somewhat ironic, given that Stoppelman wrote in a Reddit AMA:
“Sometimes I feel like the company’s psychiatrist, but I do feel like listening to people and hearing about their problems (personal and professional) cleans out the cobwebs and keeps the organization humming.”
We asked Yelp if they could talk more about how many of its employees are making non-living wages, but they stopped responding.