In New York City, a jury found actor Robert De Niro’s production firm, Canal Productions, responsible for workplace discrimination and acting in reprisal against Graham Chase Robinson, a former employee. The judgement concluded a fortnight-long trial in a Manhattan civil court. The jury determined that Canal Productions must compensate Robinson to the tune of $1.2 million, split into roughly equal parts for each of the claims—discrimination and retaliation.
That this verdict has arrived marks the closure of a four-year dispute between De Niro and Robinson. The bone of contention was that the actor allegedly made inappropriate remarks and assigned menial tasks to Robinson that bore no relation to her actual responsibilities. Robinson claimed that these constituted instances of discrimination.
Robinson faced numerous allegations of impropriety, but the jury acquitted her of all charges. Among these accusations were personal use of company funds, misuse of company frequent flyer mileage, and overuse of Netflix during working hours. The trial concluded without implicating De Niro personally in any of the charges.
Rich Schoenstein, De Niro’s legal counsel, also represented Canal Productions during the trial. Schoenstein expressed satisfaction over the fact that the jury had clearly distinguished between the actor and his involvement in this case. As he put it, it was a significant triumph for De Niro, and he emphasized the actor’s vindication.
Robinson had labeled De Niro a ‘terrible boss.’ She asserted that he demanded personal favors such as back scratching and made unprofessional telephone calls during his private times. Additionally, Robinson alleged gender-based pay disparity, claiming that her remuneration was insufficient because she was female.
De Niro, the octogenarian acting titan, spent minimal time present in court during the trial. Despite that, he did exert his defense by rejecting the sexual motive behind his requests for back scratching. He branded these assertions as ‘nonsense’ when he took the stand last month.
The actor also admitted that he had referred to Robinson as a ‘spoiled brat’ when she failed to wake him for an important meeting. Nonetheless, De Niro firmly denied ever acting in an abusive manner towards Robinson or anyone else in his employ.
Brent Hannafan, who was leading Robinson’s legal team, hailed the jury’s verdict as a complete vindication of his client. Hannafan emphasized that the jury had validated Robinson’s experiences and claims, and expressed how pleased both he and his client were with the outcome of the case.
Robinson had originally filed a lawsuit against De Niro for lacking in his duties as an employer, to which he testified last month. During this trial, observers noted that De Niro held his composure despite appearing annoyed when discussions of his relationship with Robinson commenced. His eventual outburst labelled the entire accusation attempt as utter nonsense.
De Niro, a two-time Oscar winner famously known for his parts in ‘The Deer Hunter’ and ‘Raging Bull’, was the primary witness in this trial that unfolded due to disputes concerning Graham Chase Robinson’s employment. Robinson’s tenure at De Niro’s organization spanned from 2008 to 2019, during which she held the title of Vice President of Production and Finance.
When Robinson chose to leave, her salary peaked at $300,000 annually. Reflecting on her time under De Niro’s employ, Robinson recalled responsibilities such as decorating De Niro’s Christmas tree and escorting him to the hospital in the event of accidents at home.
However, Robinson filed a $12 million lawsuit against De Niro, citing sustained emotional damage and ruined credibility as a result of the matter at hand. She further lamented that he neglected to assist her in securing another job after her resignation in 2019, a consequence of ongoing disputes with De Niro’s girlfriend.
It remains unclear if Robinson’s high-profile court victory will open new professional doors or if there will be lasting damage to her reputation due to the highly publicized trial.