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Robert De Niro’s company found liable in gender discrimination lawsuit

A jury ordered Robert De Niro’s company to pay about $1.26 million to the actor’s former assistant after finding that the production company discriminated against her because of her gender.

The jury ruled that Canal Productions, a movie and video production company that De Niro founded, should make a pair of payments worth $632,142 each to his longtime assistant Graham Chase Robinson, who had sued De Niro for gender discrimination and retaliation, seeking $12 million in damages.

De Niro, 80, also sued his former assistant for breach of loyalty and fiduciary duty, seeking $6 million in damages for the alleged theft of 5 million air mile points near the end of her employment, as well as the unauthorized spending of thousands of dollars’ worth of charges at Whole Foods, the Manhattan restaurant Paola’s, Uber rides and taxis, among other places.

“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,” said David Sanford, the attorney for Robinson, in a statement.

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Both De Niro and Robinson testified before a Manhattan federal court over roughly the last two weeks, each of them recounting the series of events that led to the trial. De Niro was highly animated at points in his testimony, once shouting “Shame on you!” at his former assistant, according to court documents.

The jury spent five hours deliberating Thursday before finding that De Niro was not personally liable, but his company was, according to Deadline.

Robinson, 41, worked at Canal Productions from 2008 until 2019, during which time her title changed multiple times, from executive assistant to “vice president of production and finance,” according to court documents.

Canal sued Robinson after she quit in August 2019, alleging she breached fiduciary and other duties at various points in her service. Robinson denied the allegations, claiming De Niro approved all her allegedly unauthorized charges, including spending money at Whole Foods and on multiple Uber rides.

Robinson claimed in her suit that De Niro’s “accusations of wrongdoing were baseless” and designed to undermine her lawsuit, which she said she had previously warned the actor she was considering.

In October 2019, she filed a countercomplaint accusing De Niro of “gender discrimination and wage violations,” which included making gendered insults toward her and treating her like an “office wife.” She claimed De Niro assigned her to “put away his boxers, hang up his clothes, wash his sheets, vacuum his apartment, set his table, mend his clothing, and select gifts.”

Robinson also claimed De Niro made jokes about his Viagra prescription and suggested that a male co-worker could be her sperm donor. She also alleged that he urinated while on phone calls with her and asked her “to scratch his back, button his shirts, fix his collars, tie his ties, and prod him awake when he was in bed. De Niro also stood idly by while his friend slapped Ms. Robinson on her buttocks,” according to the suit.

De Niro’s attorney did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

This story has been updated.

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