As Robert De Niro is promoting his new movie, “Killers of the Flower Moon,” he is also making headlines for his ongoing legal battle.Thank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!
The Oscar winner, 80, recently pleaded her case in federal court in Manhattan, the culmination of a four-year legal dispute with her former executive assistant, Graham Chase Robinson, 41.
De Niro’s production company, Canal Productions, is suing Robinson for breach of fiduciary duty, related to the alleged misuse of company funds, among other charges. Robinson, in turn, is suing De Niro and his production company, including allegations of gender discrimination and retaliation.
The trial began on Monday, October 30 and is expected to last for two weeks. Both De Niro and Robinson have testified. TODAY.com has contacted both De Niro and Robinson for comment.
Read on to learn more about testing.
Who is Graham Chase Robinson?
According to her counter-suit filed in October 2019, Graham Chase Robinson began working as an executive assistant to Robert De Niro in February 2008, when she was 25 years old.
When she started working for the actor, she was “hoping to pursue a career in the entertainment industry,” her complaint alleges.
According to his lawsuit, Robinson became vice president of production and finance for De Niro’s company Canal Productions in 2017. The lawsuit states that De Niro continued to refer to him as his “assistant” and assigned him assistant duties. He left the company in April 2019. According to Canales’ lawsuit, his annual salary at the time was $300,000.
Robinson and De Niro have been involved in a legal battle in the years since his resignation.
What is De Niro’s company suing Robinson for?
In August 2019, De Niro’s company, Canal Productions, sued Robinson for $6 million. The complaint brings several claims against Robinson, including breach of fiduciary duty, breach of duty of loyalty and conversion, related to the alleged improper use of airline miles.
Canal’s complaint includes several claims related to Robinson’s management of his finances while he was an employee. The document alleges that Robinson charged “hundreds of thousands” of dollars in personal expenses on the company’s American Express cards, as well as transferred “millions” of the company’s frequent flyer miles to his personal use.
The complaint also alleges that Robinson “improperly ‘reimbursed’ himself by using company funds for “personal and luxury items.”
The document provides examples of Robinson’s alleged unauthorized use of company credit cards, including a claim that between May 2017 and April 2019, she charged nearly $32,000 on Canal’s Amex card for personal taxis and Ubers .
The complaint also alleges that during the same time period, Robinson used Canal’s card to charge more than $12,000 at Paola’s, a Manhattan restaurant, “without proper authorization, permission or legitimate business purpose.” She also reportedly charged Flowers by Philip $1,311.94 for flower arrangements for her birthday.
Canales’ original complaint against Robinson also alleged that she engaged in “time theft” by watching TV shows on the company’s Netflix account during work hours.
Robinson’s team has called Canales’ allegations “baseless and frivolous”.
“To be clear, Ms. Robinson did not ‘loaf’ or ‘bingewatch’ while at work, did not make unauthorized use of Canal’s credit card for personal expenses, did not make unauthorized use of Canal’s petty cash account for personal items , did not engage in unauthorized conversion of frequent flyer miles, and did not submit false information regarding his unused vacation allotment,” reads a section of his complaint filed in October 2019.
Why is Robinson suing De Niro and his company?
Robinson is suing De Niro and Canal Productions on multiple counts, including gender discrimination, retaliation and equal pay.
Her complaint, filed in October 2019, alleges that De Niro communicated with her in a “hostile, abusive and intimidating manner” and claims the actor made “obscene, inappropriate and sexual comments” to her.
Robinson also claims that she was treated like De Niro’s “office wife”. She alleges that while she held the title of Director of Production and Vice President of Production and Finance, she was still assigned tasks that were “stereotypically female”, such as cleaning clothes, vacuuming, and babysitting De Niro’s children. Choosing a gift for.
Robinson’s complaint also alleges that De Niro engaged in “abusive and inappropriate conduct” during meetings and calls with her. She claims the actor “urinated on her during telephone calls”, and at times “met her wearing only his pajamas or a bathing suit.”
Her complaint also alleges that De Niro initiated “unnecessary physical contact” with her, such as instructing her to scratch his back or button his shirt.
Additionally, Robinson’s complaint alleges that De Niro paid her less because of her gender. She claims that “De Niro insisted on being paid less than a man whose job required no more skill, effort or responsibility than Ms. Robinson’s position.”
Robinson also claims that De Niro was required to be on call “all the time”. According to her complaint, she often worked 20 to 30 hours of overtime per week without additional pay.
His lawsuit also includes claims of retaliation. She alleges that when she raised complaints about her working conditions, which her complaint refers to as “protected activity”, De Niro refused to write recommendation letters for her application to business school and provided her “Refused” to do so. With a reference.
His complaint also alleges that De Niro directed Canal Productions to file a “retaliatory lawsuit” against him.
De Niro repeatedly called Robinson’s allegations “nonsense” during his testimony on the first and second days of the trial.
What has been said in the court testimony?
Robert De Niro’s testimony
Robert De Niro departs federal court in NYC on October 30, 2023. (David de Delgado/Getty Images)
De Niro took the stand during the first and second days of the trial.
During a heated moment while being questioned by one of Robinson’s lawyers, the actor said, “Shame on you, Chase Robinson!”
This came after De Niro addressed claims that he asked Robinson to scratch his back.
“He didn’t scratch it. If he did, I said can you scratch it because I’m here, for one thing, I’m itching. Once. This is very ridiculous. There’s every little thing she’s trying to get at me. What she seems to imply is that she’s on her knees scrubbing the floors in front of the building… that’s nonsense. come on.”
He also said that when he asked her to scratch his back, it was “never with any disrespect or awkwardness or any kind of awkwardness that you’re trying to portray.”
At another point, during the first day of testimony, one of Robinson’s lawyers, Andrew McCurdy, asked De Niro if it was true that Robinson did “anything and everything you asked”.
“Well, nothing and everything,” De Niro replied. “Anything within the parameters of the job, as he had it.”
McCurdy also asked the actor if Robinson would have to do “anything and everything relating to your personal life.”
De Niro replied, “No, it makes it seem like it’s something it’s not.” “I don’t like that implication. She – anything and everything within the scope of her job while working as my assistant.’
De Niro also denied claims that Robinson was required to work “unexpected hours”, saying that her hours were “decent.”
“I was very precise with my hours and timing. What Chase did at his job and that he worked all night, that’s his thing,” he said. “But what I had in common was that I called in at the right time in the morning and I called in at the right time at night.”
Robinson’s lawsuit states that it was “normal” for her to work from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and with breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as on weekends.
At another point in his testimony, De Niro denied the suggestion that he and his partner, Tiffany Chen, required Robinson to perform duties beyond her job description.
“It’s not like I’m asking her to go out on the floor and scrape the floor and go out and mop the floor,” he said. “I didn’t do anything like that and neither did Tiffany, so this is all bullshit.”
He said at another point that he had been “loyal” to Robinson.
“I said I wanted him to work for me. She’s doing stuff. He should do this work,” he said. “I didn’t want him to upset everyone and create a big messy problem. Of course I wanted it all to work. I wanted everyone to be happy and play well and unfortunately that didn’t happen.
During his second day of testimony, De Niro also addressed claims that he jokingly told Robinson that she could use a co-worker’s sperm to get pregnant.
“I don’t take the liberty of joking with the people who work for me, especially these days, and even then, I don’t do it. And for him to use it is so ridiculous – so ridiculous – I don’t even know what to say,” he said in his testimony.
A lawyer then asked De Niro, “You bad-mouthed Ms. Robinson to her face?”
He replied, “I don’t remember, but I could tell you were acting like something.” “I was never disrespectful. Duration. Even then I would have said that it would not be the way she said it was.
Testimony of Graham Chase Robinson
Graham Chase Robinson departs federal court in NYC on October 30, 2023. (David de Delgado/Getty Images)
Robinson began his testimony on the fourth day of the trial.
In the first part of her testimony, she refuted De Niro’s claim that while she was working for him, he only called her during “decent” hours.
He said he and other assistants call their work cell phones “bat phones”, which must be answered regardless of the time.
“Whenever it went on, whether it was 5 in the morning or 10 at night, you would pick it up. And that’s Monday through Sunday,” Robinson said in his testimony. “It doesn’t matter if you were in New York and the family was in Doha. It didn’t matter, you know, you were in New York and they were in Australia, you picked it up regardless of the time, and then helped them with whatever they needed.
He also testified that De Niro “often became frustrated” and yelled at him on several occasions.
“Sometimes I would email him and he didn’t get the email, and he would yell and scream that I didn’t get it when he did,” she said. “He became frustrated when he couldn’t find his driver. There are many different reasons for him to be angry.
During her second day of testimony, Robinson claimed that De Niro called her derogatory words on several occasions. She recalled a heated phone call when the actor reportedly said she was “behaving like a little girl.”
“It’s incredibly hard to hear this from your boss when you’re trying to be professional and trying to do the right thing,” she said later in her testimony. “And you feel like you’re constantly being put down or put down.”
On November 6, the sixth day of the trial, Robinson addressed Canal’s claims of using frequent flyer miles generated by her corporate Amex card.
“When you were on the canal there was never any discussion about what would happen to Miles if you left the canal, was there?” a lawyer asked him.
“No. We didn’t discuss it because they were part of my compensation until 2015, so, they were mine,” she replied.
Robinson also described the alleged state of her mental health at a time when she was working for De Niro.
“I was exhausted, mentally broken, I wasn’t sleeping, I wasn’t eating, I wasn’t taking care of myself and I was desperate for some personal time,” she said.
Robinson’s testimony is expected to conclude on November 7, and the jury is expected to begin deliberations on November 9.
This article was originally published on TODAY.com