Don’t be next! 8 things to learn from the recent Yelp firing.

 Expect career consequences when your social media posts attack the company or executive leadership.

Expect career consequences when your social media posts attack the company or executive leadership.

Unless you were soaking up rays on a sandy beach drinking fruity cocktails and didn’t have internet access (or want it) you know all about the open letter to Yelp CEO, Jeremy Stoppelman posted on Medium by a customer service agent complaining about her $733 bi-weekly pay in the San Francisco Bay area. She laid it all out there. She went hungry, cried in her bathtub, paid high rent and had high debt.  She lived far from work, didn't have a roommate and was pissed she had to work an entire year before she could get a better job.

Allegedly this was all discussed in meetings with her manager. Dissatisfied, she tweeted the chief executive about her financial woes and only as a last resort posted her 2,500 word Dear Jeremy letter. Seriously? Then she was fired. Then she was shocked.  Then the Twitter shit storm and then the arguments for free speech. It was quite exhausting.

Oh my god, where do I start with this one? I think I'll start at the bottom and work my way up.

  1. Yes, you have first amendment rights, free speech and all that but chances are you also have a policy that clearly outlines your code of conduct as an employee. You can't bash your employer, post defamatory or confidential info that might damage the brand. Online grievances probably fall into that category. Sharing salary info might. Writing your manifesto on company time probably violates the internet usage policy, not to mention the fact that you're supposed to be working during work hours. Put it all together and you're likely to be out on your ass.
  2. Jeremy isn't some guy you met on Tinder or dated for a while. Jesus. You can’t tweet your CEO to get his attention unless you have photos or a sex tape. I’m kidding -- I would never advocate such behavior. But, it's true. You can't complain about your paycheck every time you talk to your manager either. You knew going in what the pay was. Expecting it to change isn't realistic and puts your manager in a tough situation. Your manager doesn't set the pay scale.
  3. Negotiate for more money or promotion but do it based on the merits of your performance - not because your rent is too high or that all your co-workers are in the same predicament.
  4. Perform well and when a job opens up that you want, go for it regardless of the rules. There may be others standing in line ahead of you, or the rules may be a hindrance. But keep showing interest and prove you're a credible candidate based on the fact that you're kicking ass and making an impact, not because you need more money.
  5. If you can't live with your current situation, shut the hell up and start looking for another job. You may need HR or your manager as a reference. You don't want to burn bridges  especially when you don't have many to burn. 
  6. Jeopardizing your job with behavior that is likely to get you fired is irresponsible when you have bills to pay and can't afford to eat. The hard truth is you have to pay your dues. Sometimes it's working what you perceive as a shit job before you can move up. But remember people are standing in line for your shit job and every other one out there.
  7. When you’re fired, good luck finding a new job because a). they are hard to come by and b). prospective employers prefer people who aren't fired from their last one. But be prepared to talk about what you learned from your experience and what you would do differently. Any decent employer will want to know that and you need to be convincing when you explain it.
  8. If you are living beyond your means be realistic. You need to get a roommate, get a part-time job, get another job or move to a different city. 

Just because we live in a society where people like to share everything on social media doesn't mean you should. If you need to rant, another outlet may be more productive. If you choose to post, don't just ask like minded friends to review it.  You don’t want to throw gasoline on an already flammable situation. And if you do bash your employer expect consequences. This young woman may have gained notoriety but her 15 minutes may be over long before then.

What do you think? Share your comments! For more on this ordeal and the aftermath read Business Insider's article about Talia Jane being fired.