In the complaint, Tommy R. Bennett alleged that Jackson fired him unjustly because of his sexual orientation and forced him to perform “uncomfortable” tasks. It was said to be common knowledge that Bennett was gay, primarily because of his side job as “Aruba Tommy” on The Tom Joyner Morning Show.
Bennett, who worked at the Coalition as the National Director of Community Affairs, claimed that Caroline Wiggins, the Membership and Volunteer Coordinator, complained to Jackson that she did not wish to work with him because he was gay. Bennett claimed that no action was taken when he reported the complaint. Also, Bennett claimed in the suit that Jackson demanded he put cream between his legs to handle a rash, called him a “little motherf—er” and forced him to escort women to hotel rooms to meet Jackson — and then clean up afterward.
“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 written statement. “We are fully cooperating with the Chicago Commission on Human Relations and expect to be fully exonerated.”
The coalition’s statement goes on to say that Bennett’s “inflammatory allegations are an attempt to malign Rev. Jackson and the organization, and are hurtful and harmful to the progressive community.”
Tommy R. Bennett, who worked for the organization from July 2007 to December 2009 was eventually 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.