The trial between Robert De Niro and his former assistant, Graham Chase Robinson, has begun in New York, with both sides accusing each other of misconduct and abuse. The actor, best known for his roles in The Godfather Part II, Taxi Driver, and The Irishman, faces claims of gender discrimination and retaliation from Robinson, who worked for him for 11 years. De Niro denies the allegations and countersues Robinson for stealing millions of frequent-flyer miles and personal expenses from his company, Canal Productions.
The trial, which is rare for a celebrity-employee dispute, will feature texts and emails as evidence, as well as testimonies from De Niro, his girlfriend Tiffany Chen, and his attorney Tom Harvey. Robinson’s attorney Alexandra Harwin said in her opening statement that De Niro treated Robinson “like his office wife” and subjected her to a “hostile work environment”. She said that Robinson was underpaid and assigned domestic duties, such as doing laundry, vacuuming, and setting up De Niro’s Netflix account. She also said that De Niro verbally abused Robinson in a voicemail, calling her “f—ing history” and asking her “how much you want to be abused by me?”
De Niro’s attorney Tom Harvey defended the actor, saying that he “did not discriminate against anyone”. He said that Robinson was “treated very well” and paid generously for her work. He also said that Robinson stole millions of frequent-flyer miles and personal expenses from Canal Productions, such as hotel stays, restaurant meals, and Uber rides. He said that Robinson also binge-watched Friends on the job, sent abusive emails to his colleagues, and threatened to write a memoir exposing his secrets.
De Niro himself took the stand on Monday, appearing combative and irritated. He said that he was “not going to get into a pissing match” with Robinson and called her allegations “nonsense”. He also said that he was “not a monster” and that he had “a lot of respect” for women. He admitted that he used profanity in the voicemail, but said that it was “out of frustration” and that he did not mean to hurt her.
The trial is expected to last for two weeks, with both sides seeking damages from each other. The jury will have to decide whether De Niro discriminated against Robinson because of her gender, whether he retaliated against her for complaining about it, and whether Robinson stole from him and breached her fiduciary duty. The outcome of the trial could have implications for other celebrity-employee disputes in the future.
– Robert De Niro Trial: Actor Faces Discrimination Claims From Assistant, The Hollywood Reporter, October 30, 2023
– Robert De Niro, Ex-Assistant’s Bitter Gender Discrimination Battle Goes To Trial, HuffPost, October 30, 2023
– Combative Robert De Niro Testifies In His Discrimination Trial, Calls Ex-Employee’s Allegations “Nonsense” – Update, MSN, October 30, 2023
– Robert De Niro Gets Testy in Civil Court as Ex-Assistant’s Discrimination Lawsuit Goes to Trial, The Wrap, October 30, 2023