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'It's like leaving the cult'

Former employee suing Dave Ramsey speaks out for the first time

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - In her first interview since filing a federal lawsuit against the company of financial guru Dave Ramsey, Caitlin O’Conner described the company as a cult and said employees fear to make missteps in their personal lives for fear it will be reported to their work superiors.

O’Connor filed the federal lawsuit after she said she was fired for having premarital sex and becoming pregnant.

She has declined interview requests until Thursday.

“I obviously asked for an interview and you said no. What changed your mind?” asked News4 Investigates.

“The last news story that you reported on hit me in a way that it hadn’t hit me before,” O’Connor said.

That story featured audio of Ramsey speaking to staff, mocking employees who engage in premarital sex.

“’I didn’t agree with the righteous living core value.’ Well, why did you come, stupid?” Ramsey said in the recording.

“He’s going to go on stage in front of 900 of my team members and call me stupid. That’s grossly inappropriate,” O’Connor said. “That was really the straw that broke the camel’s back for me.”

O’Connor, a four-year employee of the company who worked as an administrative assistant for the company’s technology leaders, said she remembers the day a male colleague received a warning from a superior.

“One of the big technology leaders did specifically say you can’t have sex with your girlfriend and work here. I was like, ‘Oh, that’s reaching,’” O’Connor said.

Ramsey can be heard saying in the audio if you don’t agree with his biblical principles, you have no place in his company.

“If you don’t like that, this is your cue. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass,” Ramsey said in the recording.

But O’Connor said it was never stipulated that premarital sex was cause for termination.

“Were you afraid when you found out that you were pregnant that you were going to lose your job?” News4 Investigates asked.

“Yeah, I was terrified,” O’Connor replied.

The federal lawsuit states that as soon as she emailed human resources to alert them to her pregnancy, a high-ranking superior in the company responded to that email in a way that astonished her.

“His exact words were classless,” she said.

“That’s what his response was?” asked News4 Investigates.

“Classless. It broke me. It broke my soul. I’m a very stoic person. I am a strong person, and it killed me,” she said.

In the lawsuit, O’Connor claims the company almost immediately terminated her insurance.

“It’s like leaving the cult,” O’Connor said.

“You just described it as a cult?” asked News4 Investigates.

“I’m not a cult expert. I would be very interested in someone who is a cult expert or someone who is an expert in high control groups to get their opinion,” O’Connor said.

O’Connor is suing, claiming federal law forbids discrimination based on pregnancy.

“I knew that I would be taking on these bullies,” O’Connor said. “That was terrifying, I mean, it’s terrifying right now.”

Our repeated attempts to reach Ramsey or anyone from his company have been unsuccessful.

In their responses to the lawsuit, the company acknowledged that they have terminated nine employees for having premarital sex but denied liability.

O’Conner had much more to say and News4 Investigates has been talking to sources about how they describe working conditions inside the company and will have more reports in the coming days.

 

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Chief Investigative Reporter

Jeremy Finley is the chief investigator for News4 Investigates. His reporting has resulted in criminal convictions, legislative hearings before the U.S. Congress, and the payout of more than a million dollars to scam victims.

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