Robert De Niro delivered a double blow after a jury sided with his ex-assistant, awarding her $1.2 million, while rejecting his countersuit

Robert De Niro
Robert De Niro.Mike Coppola/Getty Images
  • Robert De Niro was sued by a former assistant at his company for gender discrimination.

  • The former employee, Graham Chase Robinson, accused De Niro of treating her like an "office wife."

  • A jury found De Niro's company liable for discrimination and retaliation against the employee.

Robert De Niro's company, Canal Productions, was found liable for gender discrimination against a former longtime assistant, Graham Chase Robinson, who accused the actor of harassment and retaliation.

After a little more than five hours of deliberations, the jury of four women and three men returned a split verdict, finding De Niro did not discriminate against Robinson based on her gender, but his company, Canal Productions, did.

They also determined that the actor did not retaliate against the former executive assistant, but, again, his company did. They decided the company owed her $632,142.72 for each claim — far less than the $12 million Robinson sought for her lawsuit.

"Obviously, the jury got it right in regard to Mr. De Niro," the star's lawyer Richard Schoenstein said outside the courtroom. "It strikes me as a compromised verdict. We're really happy that they separated out Bob. Obviously, they were seeking $12 million and they got $600,000."

He said that he expects the $1.2 million reward to be halved.

Graham Chase Robinson suing Robert De Niro
Graham Chase Robinson departs Manhattan federal court. (Photo by David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)David Dee Delgado

For De Niro's counterclaim, the jury ruled that his team did not prove that Robinson had stolen five million frequent flyer miles, breached her fiduciary trust, or was disloyal to the company.

"This is not a split decision," Brent Hannafan, Robinson's lawyer said. "Ms. Robinson is thrilled with the verdict. She feels vindicated that she did nothing wrong."

The jury members declined to comment as they left the courthouse.

During her 11-year tenure at Canal Productions, Robinson claimed that De Niro overworked and demeaned her by referring to her as an "office wife."

The former assistant testified that De Niro would relegate her to female tasks, call her "bitch," and on two occasions ask her to scratch his back.

When asked about the two occasions, De Niro said on the stand: "Ok, twice? You got me!"

De Niro also admitted, during testimony, to making specific requests to Robinson such as asking her to deliver an 11 p.m.-martini from Nobu or calling her while she was at her grandmother's funeral.

The federal jury determined that De Niro assigned Robinson "stereotypically female" job responsibilities, The New York Times reported.

Robinson had also testified that De Niro and his girlfriend, Tiffany Chen, worked to make her job much more difficult. In emails read in court, Chen would write, "I have had it with Chase's bullshit" and "I'm going to fucking give that bitch what she deserves."

Chen testified that Robinson tried to wedge herself in between their relationship — a claim that Robinson later denied.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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