In an intense and emotionally charged courtroom appearance, iconic actor Robert De Niro returned to the witness stand for a second day as part of a civil trial that revolves around lawsuits filed by his former assistant, Graham Chase Robinson. The proceedings, held at the federal courthouse in New York City, are aimed at resolving the legal disputes between De Niro’s company, Canal Productions, and Robinson, who worked as his assistant for 11 years.
During the trial, Robinson’s attorney, Andrew Macurdy, questioned De Niro about whether he had called Robinson names during her time as his assistant. In a powerful admission, the 80-year-old Academy Award-winning actor confirmed that he had berated her. He acknowledged that there were instances when he called her names such as “petulant,” “snippy,” and a “spoiled brat.” However, he vehemently denied ever raising his voice, stating, “I’ve raised my voice. I don’t yell. You wanna dispute that? That’s one thing I don’t do.”
The legal battle traces back to 2019 when Canal Productions filed a $6 million lawsuit against Robinson after she had left her position as Vice President for Production and Finance. The company alleged that Robinson had engaged in excessive binge-watching of Netflix shows while at work, charged personal meals and groceries to the company’s credit card, and inappropriately used De Niro’s frequent flyer airline miles for her personal gain.
In response, Robinson filed a $12 million counter-lawsuit against De Niro and Canal Productions, claiming violations of the New York City Human Rights Law. She alleged that the actor had directed sexist comments towards her, assigned her “stereotypically female job duties that were inconsistent with her job title,” and paid her less than a male employee named Dan Harvey.
During De Niro’s testimony, he expressed his dissatisfaction with Robinson’s attempt to draw a comparison between her salary and that of Dan Harvey, who had worked as his personal trainer during film productions since 1991. De Niro questioned the relevance of Dan Harvey in the context of their dispute, saying, “What does Dan Harvey have to do with her?” He further defended the pay disparity, stating, “God knows why she felt like she should make the same [salary]. Dan Harvey has been here for 40 years. She is jealous of him?”
De Niro vehemently dismissed Robinson’s allegations of gender-based pay discrimination, expressing his exasperation with the claims. He stated, “Give me a break with that nonsense… For her to use that is so ridiculous.” At one point, the actor expressed his frustration with the accusations, particularly regarding instances when he allegedly asked Robinson to scratch his back. He exclaimed, “Every little thing she’s trying to get me on is nonsense! Shame on you, Chase Robinson,” before apologizing for his outburst.
The ongoing trial is expected to include emails and text exchanges between De Niro and his girlfriend, Tiffany Chen. The couple recently welcomed their seventh child, Gia Virginia Chen De Niro, in May. In earlier testimony, De Niro had acknowledged that Chen may have made disrespectful remarks about Robinson but attributed her frustration to Robinson’s alleged disrespectful behavior.
The courtroom battle between De Niro and his former assistant continues to captivate observers, offering a window into the legal complexities and emotional intensity of the case. As the trial proceeds, it raises significant questions about workplace dynamics, gender-based discrimination, and the legal rights and responsibilities of both employers and employees in high-profile settings.