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$1.2M awarded to ex-assistant in De Niro discrimination trial

By Jake Beardslee · November 10, 2023

In brief…

  • Jury orders De Niro's company to pay $1.2M to ex-assistant in gender discrimination lawsuit
  • Assistant Graham Chase Robinson claimed De Niro treated her in sexist ways and underpaid her
  • Actor admitted some inappropriate behavior but denied sexual intent
  • Case focused on assistant's alleged misuse of De Niro's frequent flyer miles
A jury found Robert De Niro's production company liable for gender discrimination against a former assistant, ordering $1.2 million in damages.  Rhododendrites/Wikimedia

A Manhattan jury ordered Robert De Niro’s production company Canal Productions to pay $1.2 million in damages to a former assistant in a high-profile gender discrimination and retaliation lawsuit. The verdict ended a bitter legal battle in which the Oscar-winning actor was accused of being an abusive boss who subjected Graham Chase Robinson to sexist treatment.

Jurors deliberated for about five hours before finding Canal Productions liable, though De Niro himself was not held personally responsible. “They got it right as to Mr. De Niro, that’s for sure,” said De Niro’s attorney Richard Schoenstein, according to the New York Post.

Robinson worked for De Niro for 11 years until 2019. She claimed he relegated her to stereotypically female duties and underpaid her because of her gender. Robinson also alleged De Niro engaged in inappropriate behaviors like expecting back rubs. At one point Robinson recalled De Niro calling her a “f—-ing spoiled brat” when she failed to wake him for an appointment.

De Niro admitted asking Robinson to scratch his back but dismissed it as “nonsense” that there was anything sexual about it. “OK, twice? You got me! I’m saying this is nonsense,” he testified angrily. “It was never done with any disrespect.”

Much of the case centered around allegations that Robinson misused De Niro’s frequent flyer miles, which the actor said amounted to $60,000 in stolen rewards points. De Niro claimed Robinson took advantage of an “honor system” that allowed her to use his miles in moderation.

Robinson denied misusing the miles, and her attorney said she felt vindicated by the verdict. Meanwhile, Canal Productions may seek to reduce the damages awarded. “It struck me as a compromise verdict,” Schoenstein told reporters.