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Yelp Raises Employee Pay Following Viral Open Letter

The company was publicly called out in February

David Becker/Getty Images

After a Yelp employee was fired for criticizing the amateur review site in an open letter, the company is throwing some employees a bone. Yelp is raising pay from $12.25 to $14 per hour for its Eat24 customer service representatives, reports Backchannel, and it's upping their number of paid vacation days from five to 15. The move comes a little more than two months following Talia Jane's termination for taking Yelp to task over its treatment of employees.

"I think my letter acted as a catalyst to enact the changes more immediately, especially since I hadn't heard any of this while I was there," Jane told Quartz. "It was an immediate ‘This is so great for [Yelp employees], I'm so happy for them,' and then I folded my letter into the mix and laughed out a ‘You're welcome, I guess?'"

In her open letter, published February 19 on Medium, Jane, who worked in customer service for Yelp and Eat24, claimed her employment at the company did not result in a living wage. She was fired the following day.

I haven't bought groceries since I started this job. Not because I'm lazy, but because I got this ten pound bag of rice before I moved here and my meals at home (including the one I'm having as I write this) consist, by and large, of that. Because I can't afford to buy groceries. 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. Of which I do a lot. Because 80 percent of my income goes to paying my rent. Isn't that ironic? Your employee for your food delivery app that you spent $300 million to buy can't afford to buy food. That's gotta be a little ironic, right?

When the open letter went viral, some took the 25-year-old's side and said she was making an important point on labor in America. But others, including some young adults, disparaged Jane, who lives in the San Francisco area, as an example of the stereotypical spoiled millennial. Twenty-nine-year-old writer Stefanie Williams penned an open letter of her own to "millennials like Talia."

But you are a young, white, English speaking woman with a degree and a family who I would assume is helping you out at the moment, and you are asking for handouts from strangers while you sit on your ass looking for cushy jobs you are not entitled to while you complain about the establishment, probably from a nice laptop. To you, that is more acceptable than taking a job in a restaurant, or a coffee shop, or a fast food place. And that's the trouble with not just your outlook, but the outlook of so many people your age. You think it is somehow more impressive to ask strangers for money by writing some "witty" open letter than it is to put on your big girl pants and take a job you might be embarrassed by in order to make ends meet. And as someone who not only took the "embarrassing job", but thrived at it, made bank from it and found a career path through it, I am utterly disgusted by your attitude.

There's no word on whether Yelp plans to increase wages for employees beyond its Eat24 customer service reps. Yelp did not respond to a request for comment.

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