Robert De Niro’s production company ordered to pay ex-employee $1.2 million in civil case

Originally Published: 09 NOV 23 19:29 ET

(CNN) — A Manhattan jury on Thursday found actor Robert De Niro’s production company, Canal Productions, liable for gender discrimination and retaliation in a civil trial related to a workplace dispute brought by De Niro’s former assistant, Graham Chase Robinson.

Robinson, who worked as De Niro’s executive assistant in 2008 and rose through the ranks of his company to vice president before she left in 2019, was awarded $1.264 million in damages on both counts, CNN confirmed with Robinson’s attorney on Thursday.

The jury also considered claims by Canal Productions that were first filed in state court against Robinson for alleged misuse of company funds. On Thursday, Robinson was found not liable for those claims.

“We are delighted that the jury saw what we saw and returned a verdict in Chase Robinson’s favor against Robert De Niro’s company, Canal Productions. Not only did Ms. Robinson win her case against Canal but the jury completely vindicated Ms. Robinson by finding De Niro’s claims against her to be without merit,” Robinson’s lawyer, David Sanford, told CNN in a statement Thursday.

The jury did not find De Niro as an individual liable for the gender discrimination and retaliation claims.

According to the New York Times, Richard C. Schoenstein, a lawyer for De Niro and Canal Productions, said on Thursday outside court, “Mr. De Niro has been exonerated,” but said he was unsure whether Canal Productions plans to appeal the verdict.

CNN has reached out Schoenstein for comment.

Robinson sought at least $12 million in damages for alleged emotional distress and reputational harm from De Niro and Canal Productions. She claimed she experienced gender discrimination while working for De Niro, alleging he called her an “office wife” and made her do tasks such as washing his sheets, sewing his clothing and scratching his back.

“De Niro and his corporate alter ego, Canal Productions, Inc. subjected Ms. Robinson to years of gender discrimination and harassment. She eventually quit because she could no longer endure the hostile work environment,” Robinson’s complaint read.

Canal Productions filed a complaint against Robinson in 2019 accusing her of binge watching television while on the clock, transferring more than $450,000 in airline miles to her personal account and expensing personal food, travel and other purchases.

Robinson denied De Niro’s allegations in her lawsuit.

The company had sought the return of three years of her salary and other damages, however on Thursday she was cleared of those allegations when the jury found her not liable on Canal Productions claims of misuse of company funds.

Last week, De Niro testified as a witness, calling Robinson’s allegations against him “all nonsense” while he was on the stand. De Niro also acknowledged Robinson’s claim that he asked her to scratch his back, admitting that it happened once or twice but not with “lewdness” or “disrespect.”

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