Judge dismisses defamation suit against broadcaster related to allegations of misconduct by former radio host Eric Ferguson

It’s the second defamation suit to be dismissed against Ferguson’s former employer, Hubbard Radio Chicago.

SHARE Judge dismisses defamation suit against broadcaster related to allegations of misconduct by former radio host Eric Ferguson
Radio host Eric Ferguson in a 2006 promotional photo.

Radio host Eric Ferguson in a 2006 promotional photo.

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A federal judge last week dismissed a defamation lawsuit stemming from alleged sexual misconduct by former Chicago radio personality Eric Ferguson.

The suit had been filed by Cynthia DeNicolo against her former employer, Hubbard Radio Chicago, the company that brings “The Mix” to the airwaves at 101.9-FM.

The defamation suit stems from a separate, and still pending, lawsuit filed in 2021 in which DeNicolo alleged Ferguson used his position as her boss to coerce her into a sexual relationship that he lorded over her in humiliating fashion.

Her pending suit alleges Ferguson would say he “needed a backrub” as code words for unwanted demands for oral sex.

The accusations against its morning radio star prompted Hubbard Radio to state that it found no evidence to corroborate allegations of illegal workplace conduct.

DeNicolo’s defamation claim against the radio company claimed its statement amounted to calling her a liar.

U.S. District Judge Franklin Valderrama, in an opinion filed Nov. 28, disagreed with DeNicolo and found that Hubbard’s statement did not defame her. The judge wrote the company’s statement “did not address DeNicolo’s conduct as an employee or reflect on her job as a radio producer” and do not fall in the category of “actionable defamation.”

DeNicolo’s attorney, Carmen Caruso, said they were disappointed in the decision and planned to appeal.

A similar defamation claim against Hubbard had also been brought by another former co-worker, Melissa McGurren, who claimed Ferguson harassed her. It was also dismissed in federal court last spring and Valderrama cited the dismissal in support of his recent decision.

In court filings, four women have alleged misconduct by Ferguson and claimed the company ignored their complaints.

Ferguson has denied misconduct allegations but was suspended from the morning show and announced he was leaving his job last year after 25 years as host.

DeNicolo, who worked at WTMX, the station known as “The Mix,” for nearly 20 years, was laid off in 2020.

The next hearing in her lawsuit against Ferguson, which asserts claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress, is scheduled for Dec. 8.

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