The Reverend Jesse Jackson denied allegations in a complaint filed in Chicago
against him and his organization, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, by a
former employee who claims he was terminated because of being gay.
In a complaint filed with the Chicago Commission on Human Relations, Tommy R. Bennett said he was harassed, discriminated against, and bullied by coworkers and Jackson himself. Bennett said that after two years of work, he was laid off because he is gay.
Jackson and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition issued a joint statement Friday, "unequivocally [denying] Tommy Bennett's false claims of harassment, retaliation, and discrimination," according to the Chicago Tribune.
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."
"The organization does not condone or tolerate discrimination in any form," the group said in the statement. "His inflammatory allegations are an attempt to malign Rev. Jackson and the organization, and are hurtful and harmful to the progressive community. We are fully cooperating with the Chicago Commission on Human Relations and expect to be fully exonerated."