Gay man alleges sexual harassment, discrimination by Rev. Jesse Jackson

Gay man alleges sexual harassment, discrimination by Rev. Jesse Jackson
Tommy Bennett (left) and Rev. Jesse Jackson

A former employee of the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition has filed a wrongful termination and discrimination complaint against the civil rights leader, alleging he was harassed and eventually fired because he was gay.

In the complaint filed with the Chicago Commission on Human Relations, Tommy Bennett of Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood accuses his former co-workers of mocking and harassing him because of his orientation. The complaint says that his superiors did nothing to rectify the situation when he complained.

Bennett’s complaint also alleges he was forced him to perform “uncomfortable” tasks, including escorting various women to hotel rooms to meet Jackson for sex.

Bennett claims that he let Jackson know that he “was uncomfortable cleaning up his hotel rooms, escorting women to his hotel room, being summoned to his hotel room after hours or packing his clothes.”

Things reached an apex later in 2008, when Bennett says he “was summoned to Rev. Jackson’s hotel room” at the Hilton Chicago O’Hare Airport Hotel. Bennett claims that he was eventually instructed to apply cream to Jackson, who “had a rash between his legs.” Bennett says that he refused, resulting in Jackson allegedly calling Bennett a “little motherfucker.”

“The Rainbow PUSH Coalition and Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., unequivocally deny Tommy Bennett’s false claims of harassment, retaliation and discrimination,” PUSH spokeswoman Lauren Love said in a statement.

Bennett worked for the Rainbow PUSH Coalition as the National Director of Community Affairs. He is currently a member of President Barack Obama’s LGBT Leadership Council.

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