In a landmark decision, a Manhattan civil jury has ruled that actor Robert De Niro’s production company, Canal Productions, discriminated and retaliated against Graham Chase Robinson, his former assistant. The jury has ordered the production company to pay more than $1.2 million in damages to Robinson, bringing an end to a four-year-long legal battle.
The trial, which unfolded over two weeks at the Manhattan federal courthouse, exposed the contentious relationship between De Niro and Robinson. The case included accusations of degrading requests, stolen airline miles, and heated confrontations. Robinson’s countersuit against De Niro’s initial legal action alleged emotional distress, reputational harm, and gender discrimination during her tenure as his assistant.
While De Niro himself was not found liable, his production company faced significant repercussions. The jury, consisting of seven members, awarded Robinson $632,142.86 for both gender discrimination and retaliation. De Niro’s attorney, Rich Schoenstein, expressed satisfaction that the jury had “separated Bob from this,” emphasizing that “it’s a great victory for Mr. De Niro. He was absolved.”
Robinson’s attorney, Brent Hannafan, hailed the verdict as a total vindication for his client, stating, “We’re thrilled with the verdict. She’s been totally vindicated. The jury found against Canal, they found against Canal on all their counterclaims.”
Exposing A Toxic Culture
The legal battle unfolded as Robinson, who started working for De Niro in 2008, rose through the ranks, eventually becoming the director of production for Canal Productions. Her $12 million lawsuit detailed allegations of misconduct, including lewd jokes, inappropriate requests, and derogatory language used by De Niro. The accusations also extended to De Niro’s girlfriend, Tiffany Chan, who allegedly berated Robinson and accused her of trying to steal De Niro.
De Niro, in his defense, admitted to berating Robinson but denied any abusive behavior, claiming annoyance. The courtroom drama exposed the inner workings of Canal Productions, with employees testifying about office gossip, drama, and backstabbing within the company.
The jury’s decision highlights the broader societal conversation surrounding workplace discrimination and the power dynamics that exist within the entertainment industry. Robinson’s case sheds light on the challenges faced by employees when confronting powerful figures in their workplace.
While De Niro’s legal team did not rule out the possibility of an appeal, Robinson’s victory stands as a significant moment in the ongoing discourse around workplace harassment and discrimination. The jury’s decision sends a message about accountability and sets a precedent for addressing misconduct within high-profile workplaces.