Personal finance guru Dave Ramsey required employees at his company to disregard COVID-19 work-from-home orders and attend in-person gatherings of more than 900 workers who were encouraged not to wear masks or maintain social distance, a new federal workplace discrimination lawsuit asserts.
Employees at Ramsey Solutions – the Franklin, Tennessee, headquarters for the evangelical Christian bestselling author and media mogul – who wanted to work from home instead of coming to office were guilty of “weakness of spirit,” Ramsey said, according to the lawsuit.
Brad Amos, who filed the suit Monday in U.S. District Court in Nashville, said in the suit that he asked to work from home out of concern about workplace transmission of the coronavirus because he has a young son with Coats’ disease, a rare affliction that can restrict blood and oxygen to the retina. His wife is also a high-risk person “with a predisposition for pneumonia,” he said.
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Amos took a senior video editor job with the media and live events company in August 2019. He moved his family to the area in March 2020 after selling their California home.
He charges Ramsey Solutions with religiously discriminating and retaliating against him by firing him in July 2020 after he refused to follow the company’s COVID-19 strategy of “pray and keep moving forward,” and for adhering to his own religious beliefs that “God helps those that help themselves” by following scientific precautions to combat the pandemic.
In a statement to USA TODAY, Ramsey Solutions said Amos’ lawsuit ” is filled with false statements and has absolutely no merit. Mr. Amos was fired during a meeting to discuss his poor performance with his leaders, where he insulted his most senior leader. He was not terminated for his religious beliefs or how he wanted to handle COVID.”
Ramsey Solutions “is fully prepared to defend this lawsuit and prevail,” the statement said.
Amos’ attorney Jonathan Street, said he and his client dismissed a similar suit filed in Tennessee state court in April, after receiving a Right to Sue letter from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission allowing them to file in federal court.
His religious beliefs, which require him to protect his family’s health and safety, Amos said in the lawsuit, ran counter to the company’s “cult-like attitude regarding Mr. Ramsey the entire time of the plaintiff’s employment.”
When Amos initially interviewed with the company, Street told USA TODAY, “they seemed to have their views aligned. When he got there, they actually weren’t. The religion is Dave Ramsey. Everyone has to do what he says, and that’s the ultimate mandate.”
Amos was initially allowed to work from home, but he was demoted to assistant video editor. He also said responses to questions about his personal life, including his marriage, that were supposed to be private were shared with upper management, Amos said in the lawsuit.
Amos said he returned to office as required in May 2020 before he was fired two months later. “Employees who wore masks to meetings were mocked and derided,” Amos said in the suit, in which he is seeking back pay and damages.
This is just the latest workplace termination suit faced by Ramsey Solutions. In September, former employee Julie Anne Stamps, who came out as a lesbian while working there, felt forced to resign because the company does not agree “with that lifestyle.”
In July 2021, another employee, Caitlin O’Connor, alleged in federal lawsuit that she was fired because she was pregnant but not married to the baby’s father. Attorneys for Ramsey Solutions said in in court filings that the employee was fired for premarital sex, as were a dozen additional employees.
Ramsey has vocally opposed COVID-19 restrictions, calling them “totalitarian” government restrictions, and has said he wanted to “start a crusade” against them. The company reportedly hosted a large Christmas party in December 2020 with hundreds of staff members, even though it had experienced an outbreak of more than 50 COVID-19 cases at its headquarters in November 2020, Religion News Service reported.
Contributing: Brinley Hineman, Emily R. West of The Nashville Tennessean
Follow Mike Snider on Twitter: @mikesnider.