Robert De Niro Accused in Sex Bias Suit of Treating Company's Ex-VP as "Office Wife"

Robert De Niro -Getty-H 2019
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In August, Robert De Niro's Canal Productions filed a lawsuit against an ex-employee that would go viral. In New York court, Graham Chase Robinson, Canal's former vp production and finance, was accused of everything from abusing corporate credit cards to binge-watching "astounding hours of TV shows on Netflix," including 55 episodes of Friends. The $6 million lawsuit was rather unusual and had the airs of being a preemptive strike against someone who wouldn't sign a separation agreement.

Now Robinson has hit back with her own complaint alleging that De Niro leads an abusive workplace toward women.

"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. 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."

Robinson adds that she was treated as De Niro's "office wife," as she was assigned stereotypical female duties like housework and was underpaid.

"Ms. Robinson's position became increasingly intolerable, and over the years she announced her intent to resign multiple times," states the complaint. "De Niro responded with both a carrot and a stick — he made promises to induce to her stay and threatened repercussions if she left. … By April 2019, Ms. Robinson had enough and submitted her final resignation. Ms. Robinson's lawyer informed De Niro's counsel that she was contemplating a lawsuit that would address De Niro's gender discrimination and wage violations. In response, De Niro took a page out of the Bill O'Reilly playbook. Before Ms. Robinson could sue, De Niro retaliated. … The lawsuit is replete with 'clickbait' allegations that falsely characterize Ms. Robinson as a loafer, a thief and a miscreant. Now, when her name is Googled, these allegations pop up on the screen. The results have been devastating to Ms. Robinson. Her reputation and her career have been destroyed."

Robinson claims gender discrimination, retaliation, violation of the Equal Pay Act and various other state and federal labor laws. She seeks at least $12 million in damages. Here's the full complaint.

Tom Harvey, De Niro's attorney, had this response to the suit: "The allegations made by Graham Chase Robinson against Robert De Niro are beyond absurd."

Oct. 3, 1:23 p.m. Updated with statement from De Niro's attorney.