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Robert De Niro's company ordered to pay over £1.2 million to former assistant after losing bitter lawsuit
10 November 2023, 00:09
Robert De Niro's production company has been ordered to pay over £1.2 million after he lost a lawsuit brought by a former employee who accused him of being an abusive boss.
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The Killers of the Flower Moon actor, 80, was accused of discriminating against his former assistant Graham Chase Robinson, 41, in a four-year legal battle.
A jury found that De Niro was not liable for the abuse himself - but they ordered his production company, Canal Productions, to make two payments of $632,142.
Ms Robinson, 41, said De Niro his girlfriend Tiffany Chen worked against her to turn her job into a nightmare.
De Niro gave evidence at the two-week trial, and at one point lost his temper with Ms Robinson in the courtroom. He was not present when the verdict was read out on Thursday.
He has also sued Ms Robinson, accusing her of misusing access to his finances to pay for lavish holidays, Uber rides, dogsitters, designer handbags, and expensive dinners, as well as stealing five million air mile points.
De Niro also sought to recover three years’ of wages, claiming that Ms Robinson binge-watched Netflix on the job and was "loafing" instead of working.
Ms Robinson claimed De Niro made her carry out unusual and demeaning tasks and subjected her to foul-mouthed tirades,
She alleges that De Niro viewed her as an "office wife" and would often task her with menial jobs like fetching his drinks, washing bed sheets and scratching his back.
During the trial when the issue of back-scratching was brought up by Chase Robinson's legal team, De Niro fumed "Okay, twice? You got me! I'm saying this is nonsense. It was never done with any disrespect."
In another outburst from the stand after growing frustrated with the line of questioning, De Niro yelled: "Shame on you, Chase Robinson! God da**it! I'm sorry."
Ms Robinson had sought $12 million in damages for alleged emotional distress and reputational harm, and says she has been unemployed, traumatised, and struggling to leave the house since the end of her time working for De Niro.
She was on a $300,000 annual wage as his vice president of production and finance - bumped up from $100,000 - but quit after a falling-out with De Niro’s girlfriend Tiffany Chen, the court heard.
Ms Robinson said she quit her job during an "emotional and mental breakdown" that left her overwhelmed and feeling like she had "hit rock bottom".
She said she has suffered from anxiety and depression since quitting and has not worked in four years despite applying for 638 jobs.
"I don't have a social life," she said.
"I'm so humiliated and embarrassed and feel so judged. I feel so damaged in a way. ... I lost my life. Lost my career. Lost my financial independence. I lost everything."