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Suit: Man fired from Jesse Jackson organization for being gay

Updated: November 18, 2011 12:22AM

A man filed a lawsuit Friday claiming he was fired from the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition because he is gay.

Tommy R. Bennett claims Jackson fired him unjustly and the civil rights leader forced him to perform “uncomfortable” tasks, including escorting various women to hotel rooms to meet Jackson for sex, according to a suit filed in Cook County Circuit Court.

The claims mirror allegations Bennett made last year in a complaint to Chicago’s Commission on Human Relations.

Bennett claims he worked for PUSH starting in July 2007, and was both an organizer and Jackson’s travel assistant.

Bennett claims he received a letter in December 2009, in which he was told he was being laid off due to a “lack of funding.” But Bennett alleges someone else was then hired to replace him.

A spokesperson for the Rainbow PUSH Coalition could not be reached for comment Friday evening. When Bennett’s allegations first surfaced in April, a spokeswoman said his claims were false and intended to harm Rainbow PUSH.

“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 at the time.

Allison Horton

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