A former assistant producer for WTMX-FM’s headline show “Eric in the Morning” show has filed a lawsuit against host Eric Ferguson, alleging that he used his influence and power as the radio station’s “Anointed sacred cow” to pressure her into giving him sexual favors early in her career, then blocked her advancement after she refused his unwanted advances. In a Cook County lawsuit filed in May, Cynthia DeNicolo contends that Mr. Ferguson executed the plan for her firing.
This lawsuit comes nearly 16 years after she stopped allegedly giving him oral sex about twice a month in response to the lawsuits. Although DeNicolo continued to work at the station, she felt she was always under pressure and could never get from underneath the power Ferguson had at the station.
Using coded language like, “I need a back rub” is allegedly how the Radio Hall of Fame Host would communicate that he wanted DeNicolo to perform sexual favors.
He also belittled her in front of other workers, pushed her to give him oral sex after radio conventions or at her house after hours, and demanded other personal favors, like demanding that she babysit his kids for a decade beginning in 2003, leading her to be known around The Mix as “Eric’s babysitter,” the suit said.
The complaint further states that Ferguson “intended that DeNicolo suffer low wages and stalled career advancement as her punishment for refusing to succumb to his demands to resume the unwelcome sexual relationship she terminated in 2004.”
There is no other evidence that Ferguson was involved in any misconduct and his attorneys vehemently deny that any wrongdoing took place. ”As stated in our motion to dismiss, Eric emphatically denies the existence of a sexual relationship with plaintiff Cynthia DeNicolo and the other allegations of wrongdoing in her complaint,” attorney Peter Donati said in an emailed response to the Chicago Tribune on Monday.
Other than that, Eric Ferguson has remained quiet off air but he continues to host his number 9 ranked show for the time being.
Eric Ferguson is the only one named in the suit while the parent company, Hubbard Radio Chicago, who took over the station in 2011 was not named in the suit. They did release a statement surrounding the allegations.
“We take concerns about our workplace culture and the experience of our employees very seriously, and with the full support of Hubbard Radio Chicago and Hubbard Broadcasting, we took steps immediately to investigate. An internal investigation and an independent external investigation found no evidence to corroborate allegations of illegal workplace conduct.”
DeNicolo was laid off as part of companywide cuts described as a “response to the challenges presented by COVID-19.” Hubbard said it laid off a dozen employees across its stations.
While they maintain this was a COVID-19 related firing, DeNicolo thinks differently and continues to put the pressure on Eric Ferguson to pay up or come clean. DeNicolo is also adamant that this was never a romantic relationship but one that was more about Ferguson using his power in an abusive manner.
The suit alleges Eric Ferguson flirted with DeNicolo “almost immediately” after she joined the station. DeNicolo explains that he attempted to kiss her, and she refused his advances after a company event around December 2003 when he was adamant about giving her a ride home.
Allegedly, Ferguson made it clear he would not take no for an answer. He began telling DeNicolo she was replaceable and had to ‘pay her dues,’” according to the lawsuit.
While no other women have filed any claims against Ferguson, there have been several female cohost changes at the station, and Eric was also involved in a divorce where his wife filed irreconcilable differences.