Tommy Bennett, of Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood, alleges in the lawsuit that co-workers at Rainbow PUSH mocked and harassed him because he is gay when he worked for the civil rights group from 2007-2009.
In the lawsuit, Bennett alleges that one of his co-workers led a prayer during a volunteer meeting and stated “bind these homosexual spirits that are in the office” and “get these homosexuals out of here and do it in Jesus’ name.”
The lawsuit claims that Bennett’s superiors did not address his complaints and that he was eventually laid off because he of his sexual orientation.
Representatives with Rainbow PUSH, including Jackson, could not immediately be reached.
Earlier this year, Jackson and Rainbow PUSH filed a joint response to another complaint filed by Bennett with the Chicago Commission on Human Relations saying its leaders “unequivocally deny Tommy Bennett’s false claims of harassment, retaliation and discrimination.”
“The organization does not condone or tolerate discrimination in any form,” the statement said. “His inflammatory allegations are an attempt to malign Rev. Jackson and the organization, and are hurtful and harmful to the progressive community. We are fully cooperating with the Chicago Commission on Human Relations and expect to be fully exonerated.”
Bennett’s lawsuit is seeking at least $98,300 in lost income and benefits and $350,000 for emotional distress and other damages.
The lawsuit does not explain why the Illinois Department of Human Rights failed to bring a formal charge and the agency could not immediately be reached Friday night.