A lawsuit against Robert De Niro claims he subjected a female employee to ‘sexually-charged comments’ and ‘gratuitous unwanted physical contact’.
Former employee Graham Chase Robinson has alleged the 76-year-old actor ‘made vulgar, inappropriate, and gendered comments’ towards her during her time working at his production company, Canal Productions Inc.
Robinson – who began working for Canal Productions in 2008 – is now claiming gender discrimination, retaliation and violation of the Equal Pay Act, and is seeking at least $12 million in damages.
According to the lawsuit, which was filed Thursday in New York federal court, Robinson was ‘forced to resign’ from her position in April after having risen to become vice president of production and finance.
Robinson allegedly considered quitting for some time, however De Niro had threatened to give her a ‘bad recommendation’ if she chose to leave. She also claims she was treated like De Niro’s ‘office wife’ and had been referred to as a ‘bitch’ and a ‘brat’ by the legendary actor.
The lawsuit details how De Niro allegedly made inappropriate comments towards Robinson during her employment:
De Niro made vulgar, inappropriate, and gendered comments to Ms. Robinson,
He would joke with Ms. Robinson about his Viagra prescription. De Niro smirked to Ms. Robinson about his young paramour, who was around Ms. Robinson’s age.
De Niro directed Ms. Robinson to imagine him on the toilet. He told Ms. Robinson that doing manual labor would ‘make a man out of you’. De Niro suggested that Ms. Robinson could get pregnant using sperm from her (married) male co-worker.
The lawsuit also describes how De Niro allegedly subjected Robinson to ‘gratuitous unwanted physical contact’:
Among other things, De Niro would direct Ms. Robinson to scratch his back, button his shirts, fix his collars, tie his ties, and prod him awake when he was in bed, De Niro also stood idly by while his friend slapped Ms. Robinson on her buttocks.
The lawsuit states:
Robert De Niro is someone who has clung to old mores, He does not accept the idea that men should treat women as equals.
He does not care that gender discrimination in the workplace violates the law. Ms. Robinson is a casualty of this attitude.
As reported by Page Six, De Niro and Canal Productions sued Robinson for $6 million in August; accusing her of abusing company cash and frequent flyer miles before abruptly quitting.
As per Page Six, Robinson is also accused of having watched ‘astounding hours’ of Netflix content on De Niro’s company dime.
It is argued in the lawsuit against Robinson that she abused her position to approve her own expenses and use of a company American Express card. Alleged spending includes bogus business trips, floral arrangements, iPhones, Uber rides, a Louis Vuitton handbag, dogsitters, numerous extravagant dinners. Canal Productions also accused Robinson of fraudulently claiming pay for 96 ‘unused vacation days’ worth $70,000.
However, Robinson claims that suit was a countermeasure lodged in retaliation to her threatening to sue De Niro first.
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence contact the Rape Crisis England and Wales helpline on 0808 802 9999 (12-2:30 and 7-9:30). Alternatively you can contact Victim Support on 08 08 16 89 111.
Male Survivors Partnership is available to support adult male survivors of sexual abuse and rape. You can contact the organisation on its website or on its helpline – 0808 800 5005.
Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.