In what her attorney predicts will be an "explosive" case, former radio talk show host Robin Hardin has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit that lists Mayor Dennis Archer and several prominent members of his administration as potential witnesses.
A spokesperson for Archer says the allegations involving the administration are baseless and doomed to fizzle.
Hardin lost her job at Detroit’s WCHB-AM 1200 radio station last year after ignoring orders that she stop talking about Archer’s handling of the casino issue on her popular morning call-in show.
After receiving several warnings, Hardin was yanked off the air during the middle of a program last April. At the time, she was discussing a Metro Times article critical of Archer’s insistence that Detroit City Council take a fast-track approach to approving the mayor’s casino selections and the riverfront site he chose for them.
It is alleged in the lawsuit that Mayor Archer, members of his administration and investors in the Circus-Circus/Atwater casino group "used their positions of influence to suggest, pressure, and direct the ‘silencing’ and termination of Ms. Hardin."
"The citizens of Detroit are going to be shocked by the revelations that will come out of this case," said Hardin’s attorney, Lawrence A. Friedman. He declined to offer proof of the allegations, but said, "This is not a fishing expedition."
"There is absolutely no truth to the allegations against the administration contained in this lawsuit," said mayoral spokesman Anthony Neely, who is himself one of the proposed witnesses identified in the amended lawsuit filed last week in Wayne County Circuit Court.
"Otherwise," continued Neely, "since it is pending in court we have nothing further to say."
Hardin’s tenure at WCHB ended in mid-June of last year after three months of "vacation" that followed her removal from the air. At the time, the station was owned by Bell Broadcasting, which sold the station soon afterward to Radio One Inc.
Bell Broadcasting’s CEO and president, Wendell Terry Arnold, is a co-defendant in the suit. Arnold, according to the lawsuit, is an investor in the Circus-Circus/Atwater casino, which was one of Archer’s three selections.
Arnold did not respond to a request for comment.
Hardin’s show provided a prominent forum for a vocal segment of Detroiters upset that one of the casino licenses did not go to an African-American-controlled casino interest. At the time, the City Council faced intense pressure to reject Archer’s choices.
Friedman told Metro Times that the station had no authority to dictate what Hardin could or could not put on the air. Hardin’s contract with Bell Broadcasting, said the attorney, ceded Hardin sole authority to determine her show’s content.
After the station failed in its attempts to force Hardin’s resignation, it is alleged, station employees produced a "false, fraudulent, and forged document which defendants claimed proved that Robin Hardin was an ‘at will’ employee with no claim of an employment contract."
"It is our policy and our client’s policy not to comment on matters of litigation," said attorney Thomas J. Kienbaum, who represents Bell Broadcasting, Arnold and Radio One. Radio One, however, is not named as a defendant.
Another proposed witness, former Archer spokesperson Greg Bowens, said he had not seen the suit and could not comment. Bowens, who left the Archer administration for a job at a local public relations firm last year, recently began co-hosting a morning call-in talk show that occupies Hardin’s former slot at WCHB.