Robert De Niro sued for $12 million by ex-assistant over alleged gender discrimination
Two-time Oscar winner Robert De Niro, who sued a former employee last month for watching “astounding hours of TV shows on Netflix” at work among other claims of exploitation and financial abuse, became the defendant in a separate gender discrimination lawsuit brought by that same employee Thursday.
In his August lawsuit filed in New York state court, “The Irishman” star alleged that his ex-assistant Graham Chase Robinson abused her financial position of power while working for his loan-out company, Canal Productions, a business that contracts De Niro’s services to third parties.
De Niro’s lawsuit claimed that Robinson, who was responsible for ensuring that Canal was not being used by employees for their personal gain or expenses, was doing exactly that for her own personal gain. And he’s seeking $6 million to make up for it.
But in her own $12-million lawsuit, filed in New York federal court Thursday, Robinson, 37, alleged that De Niro, 76, discriminated against her because she is a woman, among other violations of New York human rights and labor laws.
The complaint, obtained by The Times, characterized De Niro’s August lawsuit as one “replete with ‘clickbait’ allegations that falsely characterize Ms. Robinson as a loafer, a thief, and a miscreant.” She said that the results have been devastating and that her reputation and career have been destroyed.
Robinson — who worked for De Niro as an assistant when she was hired in 2008 at age 25 and her position eventually evolved into that of vice president of production and finance — said the actor’s lawsuit was filed to prevent her from pursuing her claims, adding that none of the allegations that Canal made against her had been raised with her prior to her resignation in April.
Regarding some of the more salacious allegations, her complaint, at times, also evoked disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.
“He retaliated and struck first,” her legal complaint said of De Niro. “On the heels of Ms. Robinson’s complaints of gender discrimination, De Niro had Canal Productions file an abusive, preemptive lawsuit against her. The lawsuit concocted false allegations designed to inhibit Ms. Robinson from pursuing her claims, destroy her reputation, and obliterate her job prospects.”
In a statement to The Times on Thursday, De Niro’s attorney Tom Harvey said “the allegations made by Graham Chase Robinson against Robert De Niro are beyond absurd.”
Robinson’s attorney Alexandra Harwin countered by saying De Niro’s treatment of Robinson “was inappropriate, demeaning, abusive, and intolerable.”
“Canal’s retaliatory lawsuit against Ms. Robinson is a naked act of retribution and intimidation,” Harwin said in a statement to The Times.
Below is a breakdown of their dueling complaints, both of which The Times obtained.
She wants: $12 million, including back pay, front pay and other damages, attorney and other various fees.
What she claims: Violations of New York City’s human rights and labor laws, including gender discrimination and retaliation; violation of the equal pay act, violation of the equal pay law and failure to pay overtime.
Excerpt: “Robert De Niro is someone who has clung to old mores. He does not accept the idea that men should treat women as equals. He does not care that gender discrimination in the workplace violates the law. Ms. Robinson is a casualty of this attitude,” her complaint said.
De Niro allegedly made abusive and sexist comments such as calling her a “bitch” and a “brat” and referred to his female business partner as a derogatory term. She said he also unleashed tirades against her often while intoxicated and make jokes about his young paramour and his Viagra prescription.