Robert De Niro has recently been making news for his use of the F-word on cable TV, not in one of his films but in an interview on CNN. But back in August De Niro was in the news for something else. His company filed a $6 million lawsuit against a former employee named Graham Chase Robinson. The lawsuit called Robinson a “disloyal employee” and accused her of charging personal expenses on her company credit card, improperly reimbursing herself from the office’s petty cash fund, and “binge-watching astounding hours of TV shows on Netflix” during working hours. In sum, the suit portrayed Robinson as a loafer and a thief. Today, Robinson responded with her own $12 million lawsuit accusing De Niro of sexual harassment and discrimination:
“Robert De Niro is someone who has clung to old mores,” states a complaint filed on Thursday in New York federal court. “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.”
Robinson accuses the famous actor of 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,” it reads. “De Niro also stood idly by while his friend slapped Ms. Robinson on her buttocks.”
Robinson also claims De Niro made sexually charged comments, including calling her a “bitch” and a “brat” while labeling another female business partner a “c—.”
“De Niro made vulgar, inappropriate and gendered comments to Ms. Robinson,” continues the complaint. “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.
In addition to the harassment claims, Robinson says the big lawsuit the company filed against her was a pre-emptive attempt to sully her name. From her lawsuit:
De Niro was enraged at the prospect of Ms. Robinson bringing a lawsuit challenging his behavior. So, he retaliated and struck first. On the heels of Ms. Robinson’s complaints of gender discrimination, De Niro had Canal Productions file an abusive, preemptive lawsuit against her. The lawsuit concocted false allegations designed to inhibit Ms. Robinson from pursuing her claims, destroy her reputation, and obliterate her job prospects.
The lawsuit also contradicts the claim made in the previous lawsuit that Robinson is a loafer who sat around watching Netflix on company time:
As a result of the demands De Niro placed on Ms. Robinson, she had to work longer hours than her male colleagues. De Niro described Ms. Robinson as “chained” to the office. On weekdays, it was typical for Ms. Robinson to start working by around 7 a.m. and stop working around 8 p.m. She typically worked through breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In addition, she also routinely worked additional hours during weekends. In sum, Ms. Robinson routinely worked approximately 20 to 30 hours of overtime per week (or more) without receiving any overtime pay.
I obviously don’t know who is telling the truth here, if anyone. De Niro’s lawyer told the Hollywood Reporter the allegations were “beyond absurd.” Maybe, but as part of their lawsuit Robinson’s lawyers posted the audio of an angry phone message DeNiro left her in 2012 (h/t Buzzfeed). The language here is NSFW and, at a minimum, suggests De Niro wasn’t always an easy person to work for.