On Monday, a trial began in the four-year-long discrimination case between Robert De Niro and his ex-assistant, Graham Chase Robinson. Robinson claims the actor engaged in sexism toward women while employed by De Niro’s company, Canal Productions. De Niro’s company initially sued Robinson, citing inappropriate spending on the company’s accounts. When De Niro took the stand on the second day of the trial to refute Robinson’s claims that he had verbally and physically abused her for years, he got flustered and angry.
Starting as De Niro’s assistant in 2008, Robinson is now the vice president of Canal Productions. In the lawsuit, she claims that De Niro treated her like an “office wife,” forcing her to do things like wash his linens and scratch his back. Robinson is claiming $12 million in damages for mental anguish and ruined reputation. The two trials will be heard together and resolved over two weeks.
After being accused of demanding she give him backscratching, De Niro also admitted that he had instructed Robinson to utilize Uber to get him a martini from Nobu’s sushi bar late at night. While the jury did not hear the purportedly enraged message he left for the staffer, it was included in Robinson’s lawsuit and he defended his use of the phrase “f***ing spoiled brat” in defense of Robinson.
In 2018, when it was suggested that De Niro’s male trainer was paid more than Robinson, the actor reacted angrily.
Emails and texts between De Niro and Tiffany Chen, the mother of his children, were played for the jury after she was accused of pressuring him to fire Robinson.
According to Chen, Robinson had a “dream connection” with the now-80-year-old De Niro and harbored a secret infatuation with him. By April of that year (2019), Robinson had asked her to stop working from home because of the mounting tension between them. Chen became enraged and sent an email to De Niro in which he called Robinson “very manipulative.”
Emails sent four days later revealed that Chen had requested that De Niro’s accountants investigate Robinson’s spending habits. Robinson informed De Niro by email that she was leaving, stating that she had been a dedicated, protective employee. When asked about the allegations, De Niro said he treated her with respect and disregarded them. He claimed they settled their differences and agreed to raise her income from $200,000 to $300,000 annually.
After having doubts about the veracity, honesty, integrity, and motivation of his employees, according to De Niro, Robinson resigned in April 2019.
De Niro’s legal team has claimed that Robinson is just after financial gain from his former employer.
Some have described the situation as “nonsense” or “absurd.”