A jury awarded Robert De Niro’s former personal assistant $1.2 million on Thursday, after finding that the actor’s company was liable for gender discrimination and retaliation.
Although DeNiro was not found personally liable for the alleged abuse, the jury ordered his company, Canal Productions, to make two payments of $632,142 to Graham Chase Robinson, per AP.
The verdict ends a two-week long trial that saw the Killers of the Flower Moon star and his girlfriend testify. During his second day on the stand, Oct. 31, De Niro admitted to berating Robinson, adding: “I’ve raised my voice. I don’t yell. You wanna dispute that? That’s one thing I don’t do” (via People).
His girlfriend Tiffany Chen also told the jury she felt Robinson was in love with the actor. In emails she wrote to De Niro that were shown in court, she described Robinson as a “mean, insecure, territorial girl” who “thinks she’s your wife.” She described Robinson as allegedly having a “demented imaginary intimacy” with the actor.
Robinson, who told the court she was not romantically interested in De Niro, worked for De Niro between 2008 and 2019, during which time she rose from executive assistant to vice president of production and finance.
The legal fight began in 2019 after Canal Productions filed a $6 million suit against Robinson, who was hired as the actor’s assistant in 2008 and later promoted to “vice president of production and finance” at Canal. Robinson resigned from the company in April 2019 amid growing concerns of “company sabotage.” Her salary at the time, according to the suit, was $300,000. The suit alleges that she binge-watched Netflix while on the job and that she used company funds for personal expenditures.
Robinson responded with a suit of her own against De Niro and Canal Productions, alleging violations of the New York City Human Rights Law. Her suit claims that De Niro made sexist comments and conduct towards her, and assigned her “stereotypically female job duties that were inconsistent with her job title.” It also claims she was paid less than a male employee due to gender-based stereotypes, and that De Niro and Canal allowed Chen “to target her with false accusations about a romantic interest in De Niro,” which led to her being stripped of her job duties in retaliation, according to a statement from the law firm representing Robinson, Sanford Heisler Sharp. Robinson originally sued the actor for $12 million in damages for severe emotional distress and reputational harm.