WFAN sports talk host Joe Benigno has been placed on leave in the wake of a civil lawsuit that accuses him of sexually harassing a former CBS Radio co-worker, according to a company memo obtained by Newsday.
Benigno’s attorney, Arthur Aidala, did not return messages seeking comment. A spokeswoman for Entercom, which owns CBS Radio and WFAN, declined to comment.
Benigno, the longtime co-host of the midday sports talk call-in show with Evan Roberts, was due to return to work on Monday. He had been on vacation this week, and not on the air.
Former CBS Radio sales executive Lauren Lockwood, who was fired in July 2017, accused CBS Radio in a lawsuit filed Tuesday of fostering an environment in which employees drank alcohol while working and said Benigno spoke with her regularly about inappropriate sexual topics.
In the memo sent to advertisers on Friday, Entercom regional president Susan Larkin wrote, “Joe Benigno initially will be on leave while we work through this matter carefully, to avoid any potential distraction from the great sports talk content our listeners, advertisers and community expect us to deliver each day.”
The 39-page lawsuit, which seeks $5 million in damages, says Lockwood worked for CBS Radio from 2006 until July 2017 when she was fired following a physical altercation between her and other employees during an event at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
Lockwood accuses Benigno, 64, of talking about his sexual experiences and fantasies, ranking female co-workers by their physical appearances and discussing his alleged sexual relationship with another co-worker.
Larkin said in the memo that the lawsuit “also includes troubling allegations that were not raised during Lockwood’s employment, but were made through this lawsuit seeking millions in compensatory damages.”
She added, “WFAN takes allegations of this nature very seriously, and we are looking into all of the allegations.”
Benigno hasn’t spoken publicly since the lawsuit was filed Tuesday in state Supreme Court in Brooklyn. His agent, Mark Lepselter, has said Benigno denies the accusations.