Robert De Niro and his former assistant have traded accusations in duelling lawsuits after their decade-long working relationship went sour.
The actor is accusing his former assistant of allegedly misappropriating money, while she has now hit back by saying De Niro allegedly subjected her to sexist comments and harassment.
Chase Robinson sued the 76-year-old De Niro on Thursday in Manhattan federal court, seeking $12m (£9.7m).
The lawsuit came six weeks after De Niro’s company, Canal Productions, sought $6m (£4.8m) from Robinson in state court.
Robinson, who’s 37, claims that she endured years of gender discrimination and harassment as De Niro allegedly made sexually charged comments, was verbally abusive and treated her as his “office wife” while she was an executive assistant and eventual Vice President of Production and Finance.
According to the lawsuit, he allegedly sometimes directed Robinson to scratch his back, button his shirts, fix his collars, tie his ties and wake him up when he was in bed after hiring her in 2008 when she was 25 and aspiring to a career in the entertainment industry.
“De Niro would unleash tirades against Ms Robinson — often while he was intoxicated — in which he denigrated, berated, bullied, and hurled expletives at her,” the lawsuit alleges. “De Niro made vulgar, inappropriate, and gendered comments to Ms Robinson. He would joke with Ms Robinson about his Viagra prescription.”
The lawsuit included a link to a profanity-laced voicemail message De Niro allegedly once left Robinson, calling her a “spoiled brat.”
Canal’s lawsuit alleged Robinson misappropriated hundreds of thousands of dollars, converted millions of the company’s frequent flyer miles for her personal use, paid herself from Canal’s petty cash account for personal and luxury items and “loafed during working hours, binge-watching astounding hours of TV shows on Netflix.”
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It alleged that the company “seeks economic damages from a disloyal employee who, despite being in a trusted position, repeatedly and methodically abused her position to misappropriate her employer’s funds and property for her personal gain.”
Robinson alleges in her lawsuit that the suit against her was retaliatory because it was filed after she had resigned and informed De Niro’s lawyer that she was considering a lawsuit to address De Niro’s alleged gender discrimination and wage violations.
“The lawsuit is replete with ‘clickbait’ allegations that falsely characterise Ms Robinson as a loafer, a thief, and a miscreant,” her lawsuit says. “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.”
Tom Harvey, De Niro’s attorney, told The Independent that the allegations made by Robinson against De Niro are “beyond absurd.”
Additional reporting by agencies