Rev Jesse Jackson denies harassing gay employee

PinkNews logo with white background and rainbow corners

Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson has denied claims he harassed and ridiculed a gay employee.

Tommy Bennett, who worked for Rev Jackson’s civil rights group Rainbow PUSH from 2007-2009, alleges that his co-workers discriminated against him because he is gay.

He claims that he was forced to carry out demeaning tasks, such as accompanying women to Rev Jackson’s hotel room and cleaning up after the rights leader had sex with them.

Mr Bennett also alleges that Rev Jackson humiliated him in front of co-workers because he is gay.

He filed his complaint at the City of Chicago Human Relations Commission last summer and both sides have now filed responses.

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.

“Rainbow PUSH does not condone or tolerate discrimination. His inflammatory allegations are an attempt to malign Reverend Jackson and the organisation.”

In response, Mr Bennett’s lawyer said his client stood by the claims.

A statement said: “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.”

Rev Jackson is a strong supporter of LGBT rights. In December, he called for California’s ban on gay marriage to be struck down.