- Film And TV
- 10 Nov 23
A jury verdict has been reached in a legal dispute between Robert De Niro and Graham Chase Robinson — detailing that the actor's company must pay $1.2 million in damages.
Robert De Niro's company must pay a former employee of the actor's company $1.2 million over claims of gender discrimination and retaliation. The jury has reached their verdict following a years-long legal battle between the actor and Graham Chase Robinson that began after her resignation from Canal Productions.
Ms Robinson had sued for $12m, alleging she was abused, demeaned, underpaid and treated like De Niro's "office wife."
Jurors, however, did not find the actor personally liable in the civil trial. Ms Robinson was on De Niro's payroll for 11 years. Hired as his personal assistant in 2008, and later promoted to vice-president of production and finance at the company.
Quitting her position in 2019, she sued for "emotional distress and reputational harm", claiming De Niro often made "vulgar, inappropriate and gendered comments" and assigned her "stereotypically female" tasks.
He insisted that he was never abusive, and while he admitted he was at times bad-tempered, adamantly refuted Ms Robinson's allegations.
Canal countersued for $6m, accusing her of misusing office funds, stealing company property and transferring more than $450,000 in airline miles to her personal account.
After eight days of testimony and five hours of deliberation over the duelling claims, the jury did not find Ms Robinson liable for any of Canal's financial misconduct claims. De Niro was not present in the courtroom when the verdict was read aloud on Thursday.
Ms Robinson was seen smiling as the decision was handed down, hugging her lawyers after jurors left the room, the Associated Press reported.
In a dramatic outburst at one point in the trial, De Niro screamed "shame on you" across the courtroom, looking directly at his former assistant.
Her lawyer told the BBC he was "delighted that the jury saw what we saw".
"Not only did Ms Robinson win her case against Canal but the jury completely vindicated Ms. Robinson by finding De Niro's claims against her to be without merit," David Sanford said in his statement.
In two days on the witness stand, De Niro conceded that he had occasionally berated her and raised his voice in her presence, but insisted that he "was never abusive, ever."
De Niro further admitted that he had asked her to scratch his back on at least two occasions, but dismissed a question about it by saying: "Ok, twice? You got me!"
He alleged that she had made escalating demands to remain in the job, prompting him to boost her salary and title even though her responsibilities remained largely the same.
In her turn on the stand, Robinson said that De Niro often yelled at her, and required her to carry out additional duties that the contracted position had not entailed; that she was to be reachable by phone at all hours, including on holidays.
She claimed she quit after an "emotional and mental breakdown" that made her feel like she had hit "rock bottom", and that she has suffered anxiety and depression.
"I don't have a social life," she stated. "I lost my life. Lost my career. Lost my financial independence. I lost everything..."