Robinson worked for De Niro between 2008 and 2019. She left her employment as his vice president of production and finance in 2019 with an annual salary of $300,000. She is suing her former boss for $12 million in damages for “severe emotional distress” and “reputational harm,” saying De Niro refused to give her references after she left the job. Court documents also showed conflict between Robinson and De Niro’s girlfriend, Tiffany Chen.
De Niro was the first witness called to the stand. He became audibly agitated during his testimony. When Robinson’s lawyer mentioned an incident when De Niro summoned her very early in the morning when he hurt his back, the actor shot back, saying, “That was one time when I cracked my back falling down the stairs!” He said the incident happened at 1 or 2 a.m., and he delayed calling her until several hours later.
De Niro also defended a time when he asked Robinson to oversee some details after he purchased a townhouse in Manhattan, which he planned to move into with Chen. “It is not like I’m asking for her to go out there and scrape floors and mop the floor,” he said. “So this is all nonsense!”
Robinson’s attorney accused the actor of calling his client names and making sexist remarks about women, including joking about the use of Viagra. The ex-assistant said the celebrity “urinated during telephone calls” with her and would sometimes interact with her while wearing nothing but his “pajamas or a bathrobe.”
Robinson’s legal team also will be introducing evidence including profanity-laced voicemail messages and text exchanges reportedly between their client and her former boss. “You f***ing don’t answer my calls. How dare you? You’re about to be fired. You’re f***ing history,” De Niro allegedly says in one message. “This is bullsh**. How dare you f***ing disrespect me? You gotta be f***ing kidding me, you spoiled brat! F*** you!”
Meanwhile, De Niro’s lawyer argued that his client was “kind, reasonable, [and] generous” with Robinson, “but [she] always thought she deserved more.”
De Niro’s company previously sued Robinson in 2019 for alleged workplace misconduct. He accused his former personal assistant of binge-watching Netflix during working hours and stealing “millions” of her boss’s frequent flyer miles. She was also accused of using the company American Express credit card to purchase tens of thousands of dollars worth of trips, iPhones, Ubers, a Louis Vuitton handbag, dog-sitters, and pricey dinners.