Robert De Niro’s company Canal Productions was found to be liable in the gender discrimination trial brought by his former employee, Graham Chase Robinson, a jury ruled on Thursday. De Niro himself was not found to be liable. The jury ruled that Robinson should be awarded $1,264,285.72 by Canal for non-monetary and monetary damages.
Canal Productions was found liable on gender discrimination and retaliation and ordered to pay Robinson $632,142.86 on both counts.
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Robinson was found to be not liable in the breach of fiduciary duty and loyalty while she was an employee at Canal. She originally sued De Niro and Canal for $12 million for gender discrimination and retaliation; she was countersued for $6 million for allegedly transferring thousands of dollars of sky miles to her own account and charging the company her personal food and travel expenses.
“We are delighted that the jury saw what we saw and returned a verdict in Chase Robinson’s favor against Robert De Niro’s company, Canal Productions,” said her lawyer David Sanford in a statement. “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.”
De Niro’s lawyer Richard Schoenstein told reporters that the verdict was “right as to Mr. De Niro” and the jury “understood Bob was not at fault,” but would not comment on behalf of Canal Productions or if the company plans to appeal. He said the company’s legal team will likely analyze the damage amount in the verdict.
In her lawsuit, Robinson alleged that De Niro used gendered language against her, like calling her a “bitch,” and requested that she scratch his back and perform other tasks outside the realm of her job responsibilities. She was hired as his executive assistant in 2008 and later became his company Canal Productions’ vice president of development and finance in 2017. Despite her title, Robinson claimed that she was tasked with clerical duties, treated like De Niro’s “office wife” and asked to mend his clothes, tie his ties and button his shirts.
During her testimony over the past week, she said De Niro’s requests for her to scratch his back were “creepy” and “disgusting.” De Niro had denied the workplace misconduct claims. Robinson resigned in 2019 after she was tasked with furnishing his New York City townhouse for De Niro and his girlfriend, Tiffany Chen. She alleged that Chen influenced De Niro to terminate her over several disagreements on the townhouse renovations.
Robinson also claimed that a male employee at Canal was being paid more than her, despite their job responsibilities being equal. De Niro denied this, claiming that the male employee, his personal trainer, had worked for him longer.
De Niro and his team also sued Robinson, claiming that she charged Canal Productions’ American Express card with “thousands of dollars in personal expenses” and that she transferred $450,000 of frequent flier miles from the company to her personal account after she resigned. Robinson denied these claims, alleging that she and De Niro had an agreement that she could use the miles during her employment and expense her meals and transportation to the company.
Robinson also sued De Niro for retaliation. She claimed that he refused to write her recommendation letters for business school applications, did not pay her severance and that she feared her career in the entertainment industry would be impacted by his lawsuit.
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