Reports are surfacing that a former employee of Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. at the Rainbow Push Coalition has allegedly filed a wrongful termination and discrimination complaint against Rev. Jackson. Tommy R. Bennett, regularly heard on the Tom Joyner Morning show and a member of the Barack Obama LGBT Leaders Council, alleged that Rev Jackson’s propositioned the openly guy Bennett, for sexual favors.
Jackson has denied the allegations in a legal response back in July of 2010, but resurfaced when the Windy City Media Group published a short story featuring Mr. Bennett.
The 55 year old Bennettsays Jackson ridiculed him in front of employees and made him perform humiliating tasks. Bennett also claims that Jackson required him to escort women to his various hotel rooms and making him clean up after alleged trysts. Mr. Bennett also told Windy City Media Group that Jackson asked for sexual favors from him.
Rev. Jesse Jackson has denied each claim by saying, "The Rainbow PUSH Coalition unequivocally deny Tommy Bennett’s false claims of harassment, retaliation and discrimination," the organization said in a statement released late Thursday, adding that it is "fully cooperating with the Chicago Commission on Human Relations and expect to be fully exonerated."
Bennett worked for the Rainbow Push Coalition for more than two years as the National Director of Community Affairs. The complaint states that Bennett endured a string of discriminatory treatment from multiple supervisors, but nothing was done about.
In 2008, Bennett assumed the duties of Jackson's travel assistant. In that capacity, Bennett alleges he would "clean his hotel room after sexual intercourse with women."
Bennett wants $450,000 in compensation for emotional distress and punitive damages. Bennett also wants an amendment to the civil rights organization's non-discrimination policy to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
Jackson, a former presidential candidate, has been married to his wife, Jacqueline Lavinia Brown, since 1962, but has had bouts with infidelity. One affair with a staffer resulted in the birth of a child back in 1999.
Rev. Jesse Jackson has five children with Brown, and one illegitimate child that we know of.
The Reverend Jesse Jackson is defending himself against sexual harassment and discrimination allegations by a former employee.
Tommy Bennett filed a complaint against Jackson last summer with the City of Chicago Human Relations Commission alleging the reason he was terminated was because he is gay.
Bennett had a full-time job working for Jackson's Rainbow PUSH coalition until he was let go in what the organization says was a budget reduction.
Both sides filed a response to the allegations.
In the complaint, Bennett describes numerous alleged instances of harassment and humiliation he suffered while working for Rainbow PUSH, an organization dedicated to working against discrimination and for equality. He describes one alleged incident during a planning meeting for a national convention: "Mr. Bennett requested a LGBT table and discussion. Mr. Bennett was told by Rev. Jackson that it was not part of the agenda. When Mr. Bennett questioned why not, Rev. Jackson cursed at Mr. Bennett in front of all of the staff. Rev. Jackson was visibly upset during the rest of the meeting."
Bennett says in the complaint that he worked for the Rainbow PUSH coalition for about two and a half years ending just before Christmas in 2009.
Bennett's attorney released a statement saying, "Tommy Bennett stands by all his allegations. Knowing all of the potential repercussions, Mr. Bennett would not have filed his claim against Reverend Jackson if he was not interested in bringing justice to the situation. Mr. Bennett has no doubt that a thorough investigation will substantiate his allegations and has the utmost faith in the Chicago Commission on Human Relations, its investigators, and the process. At this point, Rainbow PUSH can either dig-in its heels or stand on the side of civil rights and equal justice for all human beings by working with Mr. Bennett and the LGBT community."
A spokesperson said, "The Rainbow PUSH Coalition and Rev. Jackson, Sr. unequivocally deny Bennett's false claims of harassment, retaliation and discrimination. We are fully cooperating with the Chicago Commission on Human Relations and expect to be fully exonerated." The spokesperson also said "Rainbow PUSH does not condone or tolerate discrimination. His inflammatory allegations are an attempt to malign Reverend Jackson and the organization."
If the human rights commission rules in his favor, Bennett could be eligible for lost wages as well emotional distress and punitive damages. Rainbow PUSH could also be forced to pay a fine to the city.
Bennett's attorney told ABC7 only that his client stands by the allegations he has made against Rev. Jackson.