A man who worked for the Reverend Jesse Jackson's Rainbow PUSH Coalition has
filed a complaint against the activist organization saying he was subjected
to harassment and eventually fired for his sexual orientation.
Tommy R. Bennett, who worked for the organization from July 2007 to December 2009 as the national community affairs director, filed the complaint with the Chicago Commission on Human Relations, according to the Windy City Times.
In the filing, Bennett said the coalition's membership and volunteer coordinator, Caroline Wiggins, made it clear that she did not want to work with him because he is gay. Bennett also said that his idea for an LGBT-themed table at the group's national convention was shot down at a meeting. When Bennett took the task of coordinating travel for Jackson, he said his job took a turn for the worse. He was once denied a trip to Tanzania with Jackson because the Jackson was unhappy with the way Bennett packed his luggage. He also alleges that on a trip in 2008, Jackson summoned him to his hotel room at the Hilton Chicago O'Hare Airport to apply cream to a rash Jackson had "between his legs." When Bennett refused, Jackson reportedly called him a "little motherf*cker."
Eventually, he was laid off December 23, 2009, due to lack of funding, according to the complaint. Still, Bennett said several people were hired by the organization after he was let go.
Bennett is asking for $98,300 in back pay, $350,000 for emotional distress, and punitive damages.
Jackson ran for president in 1984 and 1988 on a platform of civil rights, including LGBT rights, and spoke at the LGBT March on Washington in 1987.