Teens fired from Pizza Studio gain national attention; CEO reaches out

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- A KCK teen’s actions that caught the attention of a presidential candidate has added fuel the already heated national conversation on sex-based wage discrimination.

We introduced you to Jensen Walcott over a week ago, a teen who was fired after asking why she wasn’t making as much as her male coworker. That manager has been fired and the story has gained national steam.

Not many people can say they’ve gotten a personal shout out from a presidential candidate.

“I like freaked out, kind of cried a little bit. I was really excited.”

17 year old Jensen Walcott was personally commended by Hillary Clinton. In a tweet, Clinton wrote, “Good for you Jensen. Every woman deserves equal pay, no matter what her age. Keep up the hard work and courage. –H”

“Especially since she signed it H. That really, she said my name. I was like, 'Aw, thank you, Hillary,'” Walcott said.

The KCK teen grabbed the attention of Clinton, after she asked her boss why she wasn’t making as much as her male coworker.

Jensen was hired at the Pizza Studio in the Legends. Her friend Jake Reed was hired on the same day.

The two were hired for the same position, are the same age and have the same amount of work experience, yet Reed was hired for $8.25 while Jensen was hired for only $8.

When Jensen called her boss back to ask why, she was fired. Reed was also terminated.

Pizza Studio claimed one week ago it was against their policy to discuss wages. Since our story aired, however, the company has backtracked, claiming the manager made a mistake and was fired.

Pizza Studio later called the teens and apologized.

“I bet they truly did feel sorry,” Walcott said.

Jensen’s action has now sparked national conversation. Along with catching Hillary Clinton's attention, the story was covered by countless media outlets online, and was even debated on The View.

“I was proud that two teenagers from a small town can make a big difference, I never thought that was possible,” Jake Reed said.

“Now more people are understanding that you can discuss wages and if somebody tells you that you can't, they're wrong,” Walcott said.

The two say that’s all they’ve ever wanted. Now they hope their new national platform will show other teens their voices can be heard too.

“Just because you're teenagers doesn't make you inferior or unintelligent, you can do something. Regardless you can always stand up and stand up for yourself,” Reed said.

Jensen is starting a new job. Jake has an offer for a new job too.

FOX 4 received this message from the Pizza Studio’s CEO on Saturday:

I am Samit Varma CEO and Co- Founder of Pizza Studio. I wanted to reach out and personally thank you for your reporting and helping bring attention to the hiring practices at our Legends store. We were very disappointed to learn about the actions of our manager, who was not acting in accordance with company policies and procedures and we have since parted ways with her. We absolutely do not tolerate any kind of discrimination in our stores including gender discrimination. We fully support and promote the role of women and minorities (like myself) within Pizza Studio. In fact, the manager in this case is female as are our top 4 executives who are the highest paid operations employees in the entire Pizza Studio organization. This was a fact I was hoping would be relayed in your reporting. The delay in getting back to you was to ensure we were able to complete our investigation, take the necessary corrective actions, and effectively communicate our apologies to the two teens and offer them their jobs back.

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