For the first time, Caitlin O’Connor is speaking publicly about Ramsey Solutions, the Christian company that allegedly fired her for becoming pregnant out of wedlock. The Tennessee-based company, founded by financial guru, author and radio host Dave Ramsey, has a Bible-based “righteous living” policy that forbids employees from having premarital sex.
After O’Connor filed a federal lawsuit against Ramsey Solutions, citing discrimination, the company admitted terminating nine employees for similar infractions but denied any wrongdoing. The resulting publicity led Inc. magazine to drop the company from its 2020 list of “Best Workplaces.”
Caitlin O’Connor: Ramsey’s Words ‘Grossly Inappropriate’
Caitlin O’Connor, who worked as an administrative assistant at Ramsey Solutions for four years, initially declined interviews. That changed, she tells a reporter from WSMV News4 Nashville, after she heard a recording of Ramsey allegedly mocking her at a staff meeting. If a potential employee doesn’t “agree with the righteous living core value,” Ramsey asks, then “why did you come [work here], stupid?”
Calling her stupid “in front of 900 of my team members” was “grossly inappropriate,” O’Connor says. “That was really the straw that broke the camel’s back for me.”
In her lawsuit, the former employee describes contacting the human resources department to apply for pregnancy-related family leave. The reaction from a superior shocked her. “His exact words were ‘classless,’” O’Connor says. “It broke me. It broke my soul. I’m a very stoic person. I am a strong person, and it killed me,” she says of the response.
Ramsey Solutions says it was justified in firing O’Connor and ending her health insurance benefits. “There is no dispute that Plaintiff was aware of this [righteous living] rule and terminated for violating it,” a lawyer for the company states in court filings. O’Connor, meanwhile, claims the organization “discriminates against employees who do not strictly adhere to Ramsey’s interpretation of ‘Judeo-Christian’ values for non-work-related behavior.”
Caitlin O’Connor: ‘It’s Like Leaving a Cult’
When asked if she was afraid she’d risk her job by revealing her pregnancy, O’Connor admits, “Yeah, I was terrified.” She uses the same word to describe challenging the company in court. “I knew that I would be taking on these bullies,” she says. “That was terrifying, I mean, it’s terrifying right now.”
Describing her experiences at Ramsey Solutions, O’Connor says, “It’s like leaving the cult.” Though she admits she’s “not a cult expert,” she says she’d be “very interested” to get an opinion from one—or from “someone who is an expert in high-control groups.”
Although O’Connor says no written agreement ever clarified that premarital sex was cause for termination, she had heard conversations about the topic. For example, she once heard a superior warn a male colleague that “you can’t have sex with your girlfriend and work here.” Her reaction? “I was like, ‘Oh, that’s reaching.’”
After O’Connor sued Ramsey Solutions, prominent employee Chris Hogan announced he was stepping down. “I need to let you all know about some things going on in my personal life,” he shares in a YouTube video from March. “Recently, it’s come to light that I’ve done some things personally that are not in line with Ramsey Solutions. And as a result, I am no longer a team member at Ramsey.”
O’Connor’s attorneys had requested Hogan’s personnel file as part of their legal case.