In case you missed it, an online post about a 25-year-old Yelp employee—eh, former employee—has gone viral, and is expected to continue as more parties chime in on the matter.
Talia Ben-Ora, a former customer service representative at Yelp’s food delivery business Eat24, wrote in an open letter to Yelp’s CEO Jeremy Stoppelman on February 19 complaining about her compensation, which she said came out to about $8 an hour after taxes. Ora added she could not afford to pay groceries, had stopped using her heater, spent 80% of her income on paying rent in San Francisco, and “was balancing all sorts of debt and trying to pave a life for myself that doesn’t involve crying in the bathtub every week,” Fortune magazine quoted her (as published by Entrepreneur.com on February 22).
She was aware though the she might lose her job doing such. And true enough, as about hours after, Ora was fired by Yelp, citing violation of their “internal terms of conduct.”
Stoppelman, the CEO of the company that develops, helps, and hosts Yelp.com, Yelp mobile app, and publishes crowd-source reviews about local businesses, responded to Ora via tweets, acknowledging that indeed it is costly to live and work in San Francisco; and that he was personally involved in firing Ora “and it was not because she posted a Medium letter directed at me…[There are] two sides to every HR (human resources) story so Twitter army please put down the pitchforks,” he tweeted.
Millennial versus millennial
Stefanie Williams, 29, a freelance writer, shared that as an English Language and Literature major, she had to be a bar hostess then cocktail waitress for some time so as to make ends meet. She also lived with her mother and commuting to and from work, along with the rude comments, the occasions of humiliations she had to deal with.
Williams went on that she does not particularly like Yelp or CEOs who make pathetic amounts of money, “But turning this girl’s inability to work for what she wants into a conversation about poverty (Poverty! She lives in the Bay Area alone and has a corporate job and can afford fancy bourbon! Not exactly the picture of a third world crisis!) and wage issues, it’s utter b-------,” she wrote.
Williams added that Ora believes Yelp should cover the cost of the financial decisions she’s made, which include living alone and accepting that salary, two options that any sane person would never make. “You expected to get what you thought you deserved rather than expected to work for what you had to earn. And that’s the problem entirely,” she pointed out.
And stressed that work ethic is not something that develops from entitlement. “It develops when you realize there are a million other people who could perform your job and you are lucky to have one. It comes from sucking up the bad aspects and focusing on the good and above all it comes from humility. It comes from modesty. And those are two things, based on your article, that you clearly do not possess,” she wrote to Ora.
Williams, too, was not spared by online bashers, saying she was being ironic about the issue and wrote such diatribe to get people’s attention.
Moral of the story
The New York Post pointed out on February 24 that Ora set up a GoFundMe account that has brought in over $1,800. “Your employers can and will fire you for making them look bad. This is as it must be…. Talia’s problems have nothing to do with Yelp and everything to do with Talia,” it said.
But it is not late for Ora, the millennials out there, and those employees on the verge of complaining explosively. It is OK to complain, let it out, but be aware of the repercussions.
Ora, in a response to The Washington Post on February 23 said her case is not unique and, “"I was hoping [Stoppelman] would see what needs to be done—not just with me but with everyone."
Talia Ben-Ora and Stefanie Williams' photos from their Twitter accounts; Jeremy Stoppelman's photo from Wikipedia