Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal
An Albuquerque doctor is facing a discrimination lawsuit by a former employee over allegations that he used racist language in front of her.
It’s the second such lawsuit filed against St. Christopher Inc. and owner Dr. Peter Tiernan in the last two years.
The new lawsuit – filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico on behalf of Keisha Harvey, an African American woman – contends that Tiernan created a hostile work environment by subjecting Harvey to discrimination based on her race.
“This case is indicative of the discrimination that African Americans continue to face on a daily basis in employment settings throughout the nation,” ACLU of New Mexico legal director Leon Howard said in a written statement. “With this lawsuit, we’re sending a clear message to employers throughout New Mexico that racial discrimination in the workplace will never be tolerated on our watch.”
Tiernan denies using racist language in his office.
“I don’t use the ‘N’ word, OK,” Tiernan told the Journal. “If somebody uses the ‘N’ word in my office, I say don’t use it. I get angry when people use the ‘N’ word.”
According to the lawsuit:
“On more than one occasion, Dr. Tiernan complained to Ms. Harvey how unfair it was that he wasn’t allowed to use the ‘N’ word.”
Tiernan would use the “N” word in Harvey’s presence and show her his copy of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” “in an effort to imply that he had some superior knowledge on the topic of slavery.”
“In the same vein, Dr. Tiernan would look up slavery on his office computer and comment that African American people did not suffer as much as they claimed they had,” the suit says.
It also alleges that Harvey was laid off after she confronted Tiernan, telling him, among other things, that his views of African Americans were disrespectful, discriminatory and inappropriate.
Harvey is seeking compensatory and punitive damages and back pay.
In March 2019, Robin Bradford, another former African American employee, filed a lawsuit against Tiernan alleging that he used the “N” word while she was in the office. The case is scheduled for trial in August.