Days after Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) declared a state of emergency in March 2020 over the coronavirus pandemic, Christian financial guru Dave Ramsey allegedly called 900 people to an in-person meeting of his company, Ramsey Solutions. The evangelical radio host told the staff they would not be permitted to work from home, saying it showed a “weakness of spirit,” according to a new lawsuit.
Ramsey’s remarks were troubling to at least one employee, Brad Amos, who this week filed a lawsuit against Ramsey and his company claiming he was retaliated against and ultimately fired for wanting to take precautions during the pandemic. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Tennessee, where Ramsey Solutions is based, describes a “cult-like” workplace where employees were forced to share personal details about their lives and were told to “pray away” covid-19.
The lawsuit demands backpay and monetary damages for what Amos claims was religious discrimination. Amos, who was hired as a senior video editor in August 2019, in his lawsuit alleges he was fired in July 2020 after requesting permission to work from home to protect his family during the pandemic and trying to take additional precautions.
A spokesperson for Ramsey Solutions, which Ramsey launched in 1992, denied Amos’s claims.
“Mr. Amos’ lawsuit is filled with false statements and has absolutely no merit,” the spokesperson wrote in an email to The Washington Post. “Ramsey Solutions’ stance has always been that we will comply with applicable laws and regulations related to COVID.”
Since the early ′90s, Ramsey has fiercely advocated against using credit cards and taking on any kind of debt, and he has preached his methods of slowly building up personal wealth. He hosts a radio show with an audience of more than 18 million weekly listeners, according to the company’s website.
During the pandemic, Ramsey at times discouraged mask-wearing and social distancing on the show. He once told listeners who wanted to withdraw from his March 2020 live event: “You’re a wuss,” according to the lawsuit.
Amos claims he was taught “The Ramsey Way” after joining the company in 2019, which meant “expressing praise for Mr. Ramsey constantly,” the lawsuit states. Additionally, according to the lawsuit, policies discouraged any negative comments about the company’s founder.
Amos’s wife, who did not work for Ramsey, was encouraged to join a Facebook group meant to promote relationships among employee spouses, according to the suit. Opinions in the group were monitored to detect any kind of “dissent,” the lawsuit says.
Employees were also allegedly required to fill out weekly reports asking not only about work-related issues, but also personal information like “issues with their marriages.” Moreover, employees participated in weekly one-on-one meetings, in which work, home life and even personal finances were discussed, according to the lawsuit.
In March 2020, when the governor declared the state of emergency, Amos worried that Ramsey’s resistance to covid-19 mitigation measures would put his family in danger, the lawsuit says. Both his wife and his child were considered “high-risk,” and he requested that he be allowed to work from home. That request was initially denied, the lawsuit alleges, as one of his superiors told him to “pray and keep moving forward.”
When the governor ordered only essential businesses remain open, Ramsey grudgingly closed the office, the lawsuit claims. But Amos and other video editors were made to work in the office, with higher-ups claiming it was “essential” work, the lawsuit alleges. When Amos said he might live out of his garage to avoid exposing his family to the coronavirus while working in the office, one of his bosses discouraged him from doing so because it would look bad, the lawsuit claims.
Amos was eventually allowed to work remotely, but his boss said Amos would be temporarily demoted until he returned to the office, the lawsuit says.
When Lee’s stay-at-home order was lifted that April, much of the office returned to work, and Amos returned in May. Despite recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that people wear masks and physically distance from each other, those measures were frowned upon and employees were encouraged to “pray away the disease,” the lawsuit alleges.
Amos continued wearing a mask and tried to distance from his colleagues, according to the lawsuit, but following a series of one-on-one meetings, he was fired in July 2020.
His bosses told him that he was not a good fit because he “would stand off to the side all of the time,” the lawsuit states, and said he displayed a “lack of humility.”