Yelp Fires Employee For Publicly Criticizing Company, Internet Somehow Shocked

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You may have seen a story kicking around these here internets over the weekend -- that is, if you weren't busy laughing at Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz celebrating their second-and-third-place victories in South Carolina. The story involved a Yelp employee who dared to criticize the company publicly for employee mistreatment, then was almost immediately fired. Somehow, the internet seems very surprised by this chain of events.


Late on Friday afternoon, now-former Yelp employee Talia Jane outlined how much Yelp's terrible pay has made her life difficult. It went viral, with Talia's Twitter account trending in San Francisco.

We are well-known for our loathing of Yelp. We have written about it A LOT. This is because Yelp is what would happen if syphilis decided to incorporate. As evidence (although if you needed any more at this point, we're not sure what to tell you) one of the first points Talia makes in reference to her $8.15/hour wage:

Every single one of my coworkers is struggling. They’re taking side jobs, they’re living at home ... 80 percent of my income goes to paying my rent.

This is an eminently valid complaint! Companies absolutely should pay their employees a living wage. Sure, Yelp paying $8.15/hour in San Francisco, the most expensive city in the country, isn't illegal by any means, but that doesn't mean it isn't shitty and shouldn't be called out. People should complain about terrible wages, and should feel righteous in that cause.

They should feel decidedly less righteous in a crusade about the frequency and quality of employer-provided snacks:

I could handle losing out on pistachio nuts if I was getting paid enough to afford groceries. No one really eats the pistachios anyway — have you ever tried answering the phone fifty times an hour while eating pistachios? Those hard shells really get in the way of talking to hundreds of customers and restaurants a day.

There are a staggering number of reasons to hate the cancer on the ass of American society that is Yelp: their alleged rampant (and legal!) extortionist practices, their refusal to take down offensive and untruthful reviews, their complicity in giving further power to restaurant customers who already had way too much to begin with, and sure, their terrible wages and alleged theft from their employees.

These are all valid reasons to say that Yelp is a wretched hive of scum and villainy and CEO Jeremy Stoppelman is J.P. Morgan with worse hair and less basic human decency. You will note the quality and relative preponderance of the company's complimentary snacks is not among them.

But we can kind of see what Talia Jane is trying to (badly) say: that maybe the company should spend less on snacks and more on wages. After that, unfortunately, she goes screaming off the rails:

Let’s talk about those benefits, though. They’re great. I’ve got vision, dental, the normal health insurance stuff — and as far as I can tell, I don’t have to pay for any of it! Except the copays. $20 to see a doctor or get an eye exam or see a therapist or get medication. Twenty bucks each is pretty neat, if spending twenty dollars didn’t determine whether or not you could afford to get to work the next week.

Pardon us, we need to go bash our skulls in with a tack hammer. OH NO, A $20 CO-PAY FROM A COMPANY THAT PROVIDES YOU WITH DENTAL, VISION, AND GENERAL HEALTH INSURANCE. Woe unto your tragic, gruesome fate! We are truley sorry for your lots.

But lest ye think Yelp is somehow in the right here, Talia then veers back to some real shit:

Did I tell you about how I got stuck in the east bay because my credit card, which amazingly allows cash withdrawals, kept getting declined and I didn’t have enough money on my BART Clipper card to get to work? Did I tell you that my manager, with full concern and sympathy for my situation, suggested I just drive through FastTrak and get a $35 ticket for it that I could pay at a later time, just so I could get to work?

OK, that is genuinely messed up. Fuck Yelp with a backhoe.

That said, a lot of the internet outrage on Talia's behalf has been over the fact she was fired only a few hours after posting this. While we will grant that doing so is not a good look for Yelp, we can't help but ask exactly when is publicly criticizing one's employer not a massively stupid idea? One of yr Wonkette's humble writers (hi) used to work for an internet media company that regularly bragged about its openness to publicized internal criticism, and while we ourselves never exercised our free speech in such a manner (because we correctly surmised they were full of shit when they said this), we saw the evidence of what happened to writers who did take them up on it.

Here is some advice for you from a wizened old elder of now-31, young people: don't publicly criticize your employer in general, but if a company tells you they welcome public criticism, really really really don't do it. Especially if the guy running the show is as much of a self-aggrandizing festering dickboil as Jeremy Stoppelman.

Is that fair? Is that just? Should the world be this way? Hell no on all counts. But it's how the world works, and that won't change no matter how much you shout about it. Feel free to punch the tide and see what good it does you.

We are in no way on Yelp's side, here. Talia is 100 percent right that Yelp should pay its employees living wages, and in general is a company that can fuck right off. But it's hard to be totally #TeamTalia when she complains about a $20 co-pay or the prevalence of pistachio nuts in the company's snack supply chain.

On balance, though, her post still has more good points than bad ones, and it's important that we remember: fuck Yelp, for now and for always.

[Medium / ThinkProgress]

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