• Prominent Charlotte eye doctor ‘maintains a sexually hostile work environment,' lawsuit says


    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A prominent Charlotte eye doctor is the center of two sexual harassment lawsuits.

    Jonathan Christenbury is nationally recognized for his work in LASIK surgery and is the owner of Christenbury Eye Center on Randolph Road in southeast Charlotte.

    The lawsuits allege a pattern of sexual harassment.

    The two women suing Christenbury are Chelsea Viviani Pierce and Nilou Saniri, a former dancer with the Charlotte Hornets.

    The lawsuits from Saniri and the other former Christenbury employee focus on allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace and wrongful termination.

    Quick facts about Jonathan D. Christenbury, according to his website:

    • In early 90s he performed the very first LASIK procedure in the Carolinas.
    • He’s performed over 100,000 LASIK procedures.
    • He has reached highest level of distinction in his field as a fellow of the American College of Eye Surgeons and the American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
    • He received the “Quality of Vision” award in 2005 from Alcon, Inc.
    • He was named No. 1 ReSTOR surgeon in the country for implanting more of the new intraocular lenses each month than any other ophthalmologist in the United States.
    • He graduated from Duke University School of Medicine.
    • He completed his residency in ophthalmology at the Duke Eye Center and spent a year in fellowship training at the Jules Stein Eye Institute, UCLA.

    The lawsuits claim that Christenbury has a "history of hiring beautiful young women" and "attempting to pressure them into dating him or having a sexual relationship with him."

    Attorney Meg Maloney is representing the two women who are suing.

    “This is an outrageous set of circumstances of any employer,” Maloney said.

    Both lawsuits specifically claim there were times that Christenbury "pressed himself against the women in a sexual manner."

    In her complaint, Saniri claims her boss "pulled up her skirt and grabbed her buttocks" and also offered her "$5,000" in exchange for sex.

    The lawsuits include text messages the women said support their allegations. The complaint also includes a photo that allegedly shows Christenbury acting “creepy” at a fashion show featuring Charlotte Hornet dancers, including Saniri.

    Both lawsuits include letters from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The Charlotte district office of the EEOC conducted an investigation and determined that Christenbury “maintains a sexually hostile work environment for female employees.”

    “In this case, it’s clearly recognized a pattern and practice of behavior by this individual against employees,” Maloney said.

    Channel 9 tried to contact Christenbury for comment and he did not respond.

    It’s not the first time Christenbury has faced a civil lawsuit containing allegations of sexual misconduct. He settled a similar case filed in 2011. 

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