Entertainment

'The Irishman' star Robert De Niro accused of 'abusive and sexist' comments in $12 million gender discrimination lawsuit by former assistant

Key Points
  • Robert De Niro was slapped with a gender discrimination lawsuit Thursday by a female former executive assistant, Graham Chase Robinson, who claims the "Taxi Driver" star lobbed "abusive and sexist comments" toward her.
  • The suit comes as Oscar winner De Niro is starring in two big new movies, "Joker" and Martin Scorsese's "The Irishman."
  • It also comes two months after De Niro's Canal Productions sued Robinson in New York state court for allegedly misappropriating thousands of dollars. 
  • "The allegations made by Graham Chase Robinson against Robert De Niro are beyond absurd," said an attorney for the actor.
Graham Chase Robinson (L) and Robert De Niro
Courtesy of Sanford Heisler Shar (L) | Getty Images (R)

Robert De Niro was slapped with a gender discrimination lawsuit Thursday by his former female executive assistant, who claims the "Taxi Driver" star lobbed "abusive and sexist comments" toward her, and engaged in "inappropriate conduct" that included "gratuitous unwanted physical contact."

De Niro and his corporate alter ego, Canal Productions, subjected his longtime assistant Graham Chase Robinson "to years of gender discrimination and harassment," Robinson alleges in the suit filed in Manhattan federal court, which also claims he shorted her on overtime pay.

"She eventually quit because she could no longer endure the hostile work environment," according to Robinson's suit, which seeks at least $12 million in damages.

The complaint contains a link to a profanity-laden voicemail De Niro allegedly left her in which he raged, "How dare you f---ing disrespect me?"

"De Niro made demands of Ms. Robinson that he never imposed on males," said Robinson's lawyer, Alexandra Harwin of the firm Sanford Heisler Sharp.

"De Niro's treatment of Ms. Robinson was inappropriate, demeaning, abusive, and intolerable, and he needs to be held accountable."

Tom Harvey, an attorney for De Niro, ridiculed the claims. "The allegations made by Graham Chase Robinson against Robert De Niro are beyond absurd," he said in a statement.

The suit comes two months after De Niro's Canal Productions sued Robinson in New York state court.

That complaint accuses her of misappropriating "hundreds of thousands of dollars" for personal expenses on Canal's American Express card, converting millions of frequent flyer miles belonging to the company for her personal use, improperly reimbursing herself for personal and luxury items, and submitting "false information in order to be paid for" for 96 days of unused vacation.

That first suit also claims Robinson, who was paid $300,000 annually by the time she quit in April 2019 after more than a decade of working for De Niro, "loafed during working hours, binge-watching astounding hours of TV shows on Netflix."

Robinson's own lawsuit fires back at those accusations, saying the legal action against her is made up of "concocted false allegations" that were designed to "inhibit Ms. Robinson from pursuing her claims, destroy her reputation, and obliterate her job prospects."

Robinson's lawyer Harwin called DeNiro's suit "a naked act of retribution and intimidation."

Robinson's suit comes as De Niro, who once played infamous Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff, is starring in two big new movies: "Joker," which opens Friday, and "The Irishman," directed by Martin Scorsese, a longtime collaborator of the Academy Award-winning actor. "The Irishman" is generating Oscar buzz and will premiere in theaters and on Netflix next month.

A Netflix spokeswoman declined to comment, referring questions to De Niro's spokesman.

Robinson alleges that she was underpaid because she was a woman, called a "bitch" and a "brat" by De Niro, subjected to jokes by him about "his Viagra prescription," and suggested she "could get pregnant using sperm" from a married male co-worker.

The suit also claims De Niro "urinated during phone calls with her and met her wearing only his pajamas or a bathrobe," directed her to "scratch his back," that he "also stood idly by while his friend slapped Ms. Robinson on her buttocks," and he had her put away his clothes, and vacuum his apartment.

"Robert De Niro is someone who has clung to old mores. He does not accept the idea that men should treat women as equals," the suit says.

"He does not care that gender discrimination in the workplace violates the law. Ms. Robinson is a casualty of this attitude."

VIDEO4:1804:18
Netflix pops after streaming giant announces new Ryan Reynolds action film