Charlotte eye doctor offered employee $5,000 for sex and stalked her, lawsuit claims

Charlotte eye doctor offered employee $5,000 for sex and stalked her, lawsuit claims

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (LaVendrick Smith | The Charlotte Observer) - A well-known Charlotte eye doctor is being sued by two former employees, including a former Charlotte Hornets dancer, over allegations of sexual harassment.

Two lawsuits allege Jonathan Christenbury, owner of Christenbury Eye Center, maintained a sexually hostile workplace environment at his south Charlotte clinic. The suits claim Christenbury regularly hired young women based on their attractiveness, and subjected women in his practice to unwanted sexual advances.

The lawsuits were filed last month in Mecklenburg Superior Court, and transferred to federal court on Friday.

Christenbury would attempt to pressure women employed at the clinic into dating him or establishing a sexual relationship with him, the lawsuits allege, and he would retaliate toward women who rejected his advances, often by not paying them on time or at all.

Niloufar Saniri, a former Charlotte Hornets dancer whom Christenbury hired in 2014, claims Christenbury once offered her $5,000 for sex, and followed her and a group of friends on a trip to Miami. Saniri's lawsuit also claims Christenbury once pulled up her skirt and "grabbed her buttocks."

Chelsea Viviani Pierce, another former employee suing Christenbury, said in her complaint that he also touched her inappropriately, and licked her neck on one occasion.

Saniri and Pierce are suing Christenbury for sexual harassment and wrongful termination, among other claims.

Christenbury is known for his expertise in LASIK eye surgery. In the early 1990s, he performed the first LASIK eye surgery in the Carolinas.

He settled a lawsuit in 2011 filed by a woman who claimed the doctor stalked, sexually exploited, intimidated and threatened her.

An attorney representing the women couldn't be reached Friday. An attorney representing Christenbury did not return messages.