A teenage girl who was fired from her job at a Kansas City pizzeria after asking her boss why she wasn’t paid the same as her male co-worker says she wasn’t trying to make a political statement. She just wanted to know what happened to her $0.25 an hour.
“Good for you, Jensen. Every woman deserves equal pay, no matter what her age. Keep up the hard work and courage!” the presumptive Democratic nominee wrote, signing the tweet with an “-H,” meaning she wrote it herself.
Walcott, who already followed Clinton on Twitter but won’t turn 18 in time to vote for her in November, tells PEOPLE she’s happy to be held up as an inspiration for women.
“I think the gender pay gap is a very serious topic. Obviously women should be paid an equal amount as men, I mean what’s the difference? A person’s a person,” she says.
In 2015, women in the United States earned 78 cents for every dollar earned by men, according to the Institute for Women s Policy Research.
Some online trolls have responded to the headlines about Walcott by saying she’s spoiled and calling her a “brat” who deserved to be fired. And not everyone in “conservative” Bonner Springs, Kansas agrees with what she did.
“Some people won’t agree with what I did, but I know that I did the right thing in my mind, so the negative comments don’t really bother me,” she says.
Despite reports in other media outlets that she demanded a raise after learning she was paid $8 while her male friend who was hired at the same time made $8.25, Walcott tells PEOPLE she never asked for more money – she just wanted to know why she was being paid less.
She says she and her friend Jake Reed were excited at first to get their summer jobs at Pizza Studio.
“Then afterwards when we found out he was making more than me, we were both like, ‘Well that’s not right,’ ” Walcott says.
She decided it was best to call her manager, who is a woman, and ask if there was a reason for the pay gap.
“I was just innocently asking the question,” she says. “One of my friends just got hired an hour before me and he’s making 25 cents more and I don’t know if that was a mistake or if I heard you wrong when you told me what [salary] I was starting at.”
According to Walcott, the manager put her on hold, called back five minutes later and told her she was fired.
“She didn’t give me an answer, she just told me I was fired for discussing wages,” Walcott says.
Jake Reed had been fired as well.
In a statement released to FOX 4 Pizza Studio CEO Samit Varma said: “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.”