Kansas teens stunned by national attention to being fired over equal pay complaints
Jensen Walcott and Jake Reed, the pizza shop teens launched into the national spotlight over equal pay for equal work, will tell their story at next week’s Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
Walcott was fired from her job at a Kansas City, Kan., pizza shop in June after asking why her male friend Reed was paid 25 cents an hour more. The incident, which came an hour after she had been hired, drew a tweet from Hillary Clinton, making the Basehor-Linwood High School students famous.
Walcott’s mom, Julie Adam, said she was speechless when the campaign called with the invitation.
“I didn’t know what to think,” Walcott said.
She said she was ecstatic about the tweet. Now, ecstatic doesn’t really capture how she’s feeling.
“We never thought this would happen,” Walcott said.
The pair will have two minutes to speak during prime time July 28 on the convention floor, a release from the Clinton campaign said. The day’s theme for the convention is Strong Together.
A speechwriter with the campaign helped the two prepare their remarks. Walcott said she and Reed were able to review the speech and “put our own flair on it.”
The two do have experience with public speaking. They’ve participated in school plays and musicals and have taken public speaking classes. But Walcott’s mom acknowledged this prime-time opportunity is different.
“This is in a whole different realm,” Adam said. “At least they have given speeches before.”
Their appearance is part of the convention’s line up of “Americans from across the country who will tell their personal story to put a spotlight on the stakes in this election,” the release said.
After Monday’s announcement, Walcott said she can start believing this is real.
Walcott, 17, became the national face of equal pay for women with writeups in New York Magazine, which called the senior at Basehor-Linwood High School “a hero, a pay-discrimination advocate before even heading off to college,” and The New York Daily News, which said she “just wasn’t getting enough dough.”
Since the national attention, both teens said they had gotten other jobs and hoped to move on.
The Star’s Katherine Knott contributed to this report.