In a recent court decision, the renowned actor Robert De Niro’s company has been directed to pay more than $1.2 million to his former personal assistant, Graham Chase Robinson. The ruling cited evidence of gender discrimination and retaliation within De Niro’s production company, Canal Productions.
While the jury absolved De Niro of personal responsibility for the abuse, they determined that his company, Canal Productions, must make two substantial payments of $632,142 each to Robinson, who detailed how her professional relationship with De Niro turned into a nightmare. Robinson, aged 41, claimed that both De Niro and his girlfriend, Tiffany Chen, conspired against her when her professional aspirations clashed with the demands of staying at Canal Productions.
During the trial, De Niro defended himself, stating that he had raised Robinson’s salary from less than $100,000 annually to $300,000, granting her the position of vice president of production and finance at her request. However, her responsibilities largely remained unchanged.
De Niro partially admitted Robinson’s claims, supporting her allegations of gender discrimination and retaliation. He acknowledged suggesting that her trainer earned more than she did, citing Robinson’s family responsibilities as justification.
The actor also admitted to asking Robinson to scratch his back on at least two occasions but downplayed these actions. He vehemently denied hurling insults or shouting, refuting the accusations of abuse.
Despite De Niro’s defense, the jury sided with Robinson’s claims, ordering the payment of $1.2 million. De Niro claimed that Robinson had stolen $85,000 in airline miles upon resigning, an accusation she denies.
Following her resignation, Robinson experienced an “emotional and mental collapse” that left her overwhelmed and unemployed for four years. She faced anxiety and depression, unsuccessfully applying for 638 jobs and describing her life as a constant sense of humiliation and shame.
Initially, De Niro’s lawyers countersued Robinson for breach of loyalty and fiduciary duty, seeking $6 million in damages, including the return of allegedly wrongfully taken airline miles.
In the closing statements, De Niro’s attorney argued that the taken miles were worth around $85,000, suggesting they might seek partial reimbursement of Robinson’s salary but emphasized that they were not seeking to punish her.
On the other hand, Robinson’s lawyer framed the trial as a civil rights case, urging the jury to deliver a verdict that benefits not only his client but all civil rights litigants.
This case sheds light on the unjust labor practices that many women, especially in the entertainment industry, endure. Employment discrimination is a crime that must be punished, and it is hoped that this trial will bring attention to these issues.
If you or someone you know is facing gender discrimination or any form of labor violation in California, Labor Law Advocates has the resources and expertise to guide you through the legal process and seek justice.
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