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Robert De Niro Faces Off Against Former Assistant in Discrimination Trial


Tue 31 Oct 2023 | 10:17 AM
Robert De Niro
Robert De Niro
Yara Sameh

Robert De Niro testified Monday on day one of the trial in the gender discrimination case raised against him by his former assistant, Graham Chase Robinson.

In August 2019, the Killers of the Flower Moon star, 80, sued Robinson, 41, for breach of duty and conversion amongst other claims, alleging she binge-watched Friends on the job and stole millions of frequent-flyer miles from him.

In response, Robinson filed a countersuit two months later in which she claimed her former employer subjected her to gender discrimination, retaliation and toxic workplace conditions. 

Among the issues, she says De Niro made vulgar comments to her and assigned her to domestic duties such as buttoning his shirt and washing his sheets. She also claims De Niro attempted to convince the Manhattan District Attorney's Office to prosecute her for stealing from the actor's loan-out company.

While sitting on the stand, De Niro answered questions about texts and emails between himself and Robinson, many of them inquiring about her whereabouts while she was still working for him.

He appeared restrained but frustrated throughout the interaction before he eventually yelled out: “This is all nonsense!”

Robinson's lawyers, Brent Hannafan and Andrew Macurdy, claimed that the actor was a very demanding employer and that he put unreasonable expectations on his assistant.

De Niro and his lawyer, Richard Schoenstein, denied those assertions and countered that he simply wanted to be kept in the loop on her schedule.

Robinson worked for De Niro beginning in 2008 and claims she worked for him faithfully until she was "forced to resign" in April 2019.

For their part, Hannafan and Macurdy addressed the jury and noted that Robinson was in the middle of a bad situation and that the actor's girlfriend, Tiffany Chen, was jealous of her and wanted her out.

"This bi**h needs to be put in her f**king place," one of the attorneys said, reading an email Chen sent purportedly about Robinson.

Robinson's lawyers also claim that De Niro made it impossible for her to quit because he wouldn't give her a referral if she tried to leave.

Schoenstein, however, told the jury that the case would include a lot of twists and turns and not to believe everything they heard from Robinson and her counsel.

The attorney for the "Raging Bull" actor claims that Robinson, who made $300,000 annually with perks, was not loyal and broke his trust and conducted herself inappropriately.

He also alleged that Robinson transferred 5 million frequent-flyer miles just months before she left the company and that others were so happy when she left that they celebrated her departure.

De Niro will be back in court on Tuesday, Oct. 31, at 9 a.m.