Hi everyone, I came across this interesting piece of news and thought I should share it here.
A Yelp employee lost her job just two hours after a social media posting about her struggle to make ends meet. Working as a customer service representative, the employee claimed that her low pay meant that she had to cut back on her groceries in order to afford her rent and bills. This was worsened by the city’s high cost of living. Ultimately, she decided to send tweets to Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman, in a bid to make her voice heard.
She also uploaded a post on Medium, entitled “An Open Letter to my CEO”, detailing her struggles. The post has since gone viral on Twitter. (https://medium.com/@taliajane/an-open-letter-to-my-ceo-fb73df021e7a#.eyer72cir)
“I was sitting there and thinking, ‘I hope he sees this and I hope my CEO listens and hears me,’ and then it started to dawn on me: I wonder if I’ll get fired for saying this out loud?”
Sure enough, she lost her job just 2 hours later, after being informed by HR that she had violated the company’s terms of conduct. While company personnel avoided elaborating on the situation, CEO Stoppelman denied that the employee’s dismissal was because of her social media posts, and even responded to her tweets by claiming that he agreed with some of her points about the high cost of living etc. However, the employee argued that Yelp is not being completely honest with her dismissal.
“Yelp is trying to make this die down by lying about it,” she said. “Firing someone while their post about pay issues is on the cusp of going viral, that’s like a lightning strike in the middle of a super dry forest. Things have just exploded.”
This case is somewhat similar to the Mark Jen / Google case that we looked at in week 5’s class.
Here are some questions to think about:
- Does Yelp have a social media policy to guide employees’ social media activities? Perhaps, company policy is unclear, or the employee in question was aware of the boundaries but was still willing to take the risk.
- Interesting that she turned to social media to make her voice heard and leveraged on the power of viral. Are there no other available platforms or personnel within the company for her to approach, such that she had to directly tweet to the CEO himself?
- Who is at fault here? Was the employee’s post the reason for her dismissal? Did she overstep the boundaries or was company social media policy unclear?