Tommy Bennett, a gay former Rainbow PUSH employee who filed a discrimination complaint against the organization and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, has now filed a lawsuit with similar claims.
In the initial complaint, filed with the City of Chicago Commission on Human Relations, Bennett claimed that he experienced sexual orientation-based discrimination almost immediately after he started the job in 2007, saying that a now-former membership and volunteer coordinator, complained to Jackson that she did not wish to work with Bennett because he is gay. Bennett also claimed that Jackson cursed at him in front of other staff members and even alleged that Jackson wanted Bennett to perform oral sex on him. ( The latter event allegedly happened after Bennett became Jackson's travel assistant. )
The lawsuit, among other things, claims that Bennett's superiors ignored his complaints and that he was eventually let go because of his sexual orientation.
Bennett is seeking at least $98,300 in lost income and benefits and $350,000 for emotional distress and other damages.
Rainbow PUSH emailed Windy City Times that it is standing by its previous statement issued when Bennett filed his complaint. That statement says, "The Rainbow PUSH Coalition and Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr. unequivocally denies Tommy 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 organization does not condone or tolerate discrimination in any form. Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition stands on their record of advocating for equality and human rights for all peoplefrom standing up to affirm the humanity of persons with HIV-AIDS and advocating for HIV-AIDS education and research, to supporting marriage equality and the abolition of Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy of the U.S. Military.
"His inflammatory allegations are an attempt to malign Rev. Jackson and the organization, and are hurtful and harmful to the progressive community."
Bennett told Windy City Times said "the lawsuit speaks for itself."
For more on Bennett's initial allegations, see www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php.