Veteran actor Robert De Niro appeared at a federal courthouse in New York City on Monday, marking the beginning of a civil trial to resolve a lawsuit filed against his company, Canal Productions, by his former assistant, Graham Chase Robinson, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The Oscar-winning actor is expected to provide his testimony during the trial on Monday afternoon. The proceedings are likely to last up to two weeks.
Robert De Niro’s former assistant – who the star has accused of, among other things, earning a $300,000 per year salary while binge watching Friends – sued the actor, and the trial is about to start.
The roots of this legal battle trace back to 2019, when Canal Productions filed a $6 million lawsuit against Robinson. The lawsuit accused Robinson of neglecting her professional duties by binge-watching Friends during work hours and misappropriating company funds for personal use. This legal move by Canal Productions marked the start of a contentious back-and-forth between Robert De Niro and Robinson, setting the stage for a complex legal battle.
Robinson retaliated against the allegations by filing her own lawsuit against both Robert De Niro and Canal Productions. In her lawsuit, Robinson claimed that she was subjected to sexist comments and given tasks that were “stereotypically female,” despite her high-ranking role in the company. Moreover, Robinson alleges that she was paid less than her male counterparts, attributing this wage discrepancy to gender-based discrimination.
In addition to hearing from Robert De Niro and Robinson, the jury is expected to hear from several other key figures involved in the case.
The professional relationship between Robert De Niro and Robinson began in 2008 when she was hired as his assistant, eventually rising through the ranks to become Vice President of Production and Finance. However, Robinson’s time at the company came to a tumultuous end in April 2019, following her resignation.
Among her claims, Robinson alleges that false accusations made by De Niro’s girlfriend, Tiffany Chen, which suggested she was romantically interested in the actor, led to retaliatory actions by De Niro, including the removal of her job responsibilities.
This trial is expected to be a revealing one, as it will likely include various forms of communication between Tiffany Chen and Robert De Niro concerning Robinson. Brent Hannafan, a partner at the law firm representing Robinson, said, “Her discrimination and retaliation claims are compelling, and the evidence supporting them is clear.” Hannafan expressed confidence that the jury would ultimately side with Robinson after hearing all the testimonies.
At the time of her resignation in April 2019, Robinson was earning a salary of $300,000 per year, as stated in the original lawsuit filing.
In addition to hearing from Robert De Niro and Robinson, the jury is expected to hear from several other key figures involved in the case. This includes De Niro’s lawyer, Tom Harvey, his accountant Michael Tasch, and a range of employees who worked at Canal Productions between 2008 and 2019. Furthermore, Tiffany Chen, who has been in a romantic relationship with De Niro since 2018 and shares a child with him, may also be called to take the stand, adding further depth to the case.
When Canal Productions filed its lawsuit in 2019, it provided a list of alleged abuses by Robinson, painting a picture of financial irresponsibility and professional negligence. Among the allegations were claims that Robinson ran up significant bills on the company’s credit card, used Robert De Niro’s frequent flyer miles for personal travel, and submitted false information to claim $70,000 for unused vacation time. Additionally, the lawsuit accused Robinson of squandering thousands of dollars on personal expenses and spending hours watching Netflix during work hours.
At the time of her resignation in April 2019, Robinson was earning a salary of $300,000 per year, as stated in the original lawsuit filing. As the trial progresses, the complex relationship between Robert De Niro, Robinson, and Canal Productions is expected to be further revealed. With the court proceedings unfolding, it remains to be seen how the jury will interpret the multitude of evidence and testimonies presented during the trial.