Ramsey Solutions, the Franklin, Tennessee-based company run by evangelical radio personality Dave Ramsey, said nine employees were fired in recent years for having premarital sex. The company made revealed this in a response to a discrimination lawsuit filed by a former employee, Caitlin O'Connor. Last year, O'Connor filed a federal lawsuit, alleging she was fired because of her pregnancy. However, Ramsey's company said she was fired for violating its "righteous living" policy.
Last summer, O'Connor filed accused the company of discrimination and denying her rights under the Family Medical Leave Act, Tennessee Maternity Leave Act, and the Tennessee Human Rights Act. According to her attorney, Heather Collins, O'Connor asked for FMLA paperwork for her child's birth and ADA paperwork because her pregnancy was a geriatric pregnancy. Instead, Ramsey Solutions had a board meeting, where they allegedly told O'Connor she was fired. In the lawsuit, Collins wrote that O'Connor was fired because she was not married to the baby's father, her longtime partner.
"Ms. O’Connor finally had a meeting with the head of Human Resources and the board members and was informed she was being terminated due to her pregnancy and for a violation of 'company conduct,' because she is not married to her partner, the baby’s father," Collins wrote, The Tennessean reported last year. "Ramsey contends that her committed relationship and her pregnancy are a violation of its 'righteous living' policy."
Ramsey Solutions filed a response on March 8, disputing the discrimination claim. The company said O'Connor was fired for violating its "righteous living" policy. It also noted that at least eight other employees have been fired for having premarital sex as well. Most were "not pregnant" at the time and five were men, reports NBC News. The company "does not maintain an exhaustive list of conduct that can lead to employee discipline because it is neither practical nor required," but it has developed "specific rules" on employee conduct over time. One of those rules is "premarital sex," the company said.
The company's filing was a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The company argues it is legal for a private, for-profit company to fire employees for any reason, as long as it is not discrimination or in retaliation. Ramsey Solutions cited an email O'Connor sent to a human resources director as evidence that O'Connor was aware of the policy. The email is "nothing more than an acknowledgment of Defendant’s premarital sex ban and admission that she violated it," the company said.
Ramsey, 60, is a conservative finance advisor who has made headlines during the coronavirus pandemic for controversial decisions. In March 2020, he insisted on keeping his offices open, even after a member of his staff tested positive for the coronavirus. He also refused to let employees work from home. In December, he held a giant Christmas party, despite regulations.