De Niro, 80, testified against Robinson, 41, in a New York City court on Monday, October 30, four years after Robinson accused the actor of being an abusive boss during her time working for him from 2008 to 2019. According to the Associated Press, during his testimony, De Niro said Chen was suspicious of Robinson. The AP reports that it was suggested that Robinson acted like De Niro’s wife and had “imaginary intimacy” with him.
“She felt there was something there and she may have been right,” De Niro said of his girlfriend’s observations. Chen and De Niro met on the set of 2015’s The Intern and began dating in 2021. The couple welcomed their first child together — De Niro’s seventh — daughter Gia, in April.
Robinson’s attorney, Andrew Macurdy, denied any romance speculation between his client and De Niro, stating, “There was never anything romantic between the two of them.” Macurdy subsequently alleged that Chen became jealous of De Niro’s reliance on Robinson to do multiple tasks such as decorating his Christmas tree, acting as his emergency contact, writing greeting cards for his children and transporting him to the hospital after he cracked his back in 2017.
In the lawsuit, Robinson accused De Niro yelling at her, calling her names and making sexist remarks. Since Robinson quit her job in 2019, Macurdy said his client has been unable to find work and is afraid to leave her home. She is suing for $12 million in emotional damages and harm against her reputation.
De Niro reportedly appeared aggravated during Monday’s trial and raised his voice twice during his testimony, per the AP. When asked whether he thought Robinson was a good employee, he responded, “Not after everything I’m going through now.”
The Killers of the Flower Moon star shouted again while discussing putting Robinson in charge of some of the preparations of a five-bedroom NYC townhouse he bought for himself and Chen. “It’s not like I’m asking for her to go out there and scrape floors and mop the floor,” he stated, adding, “So this is all nonsense!”
De Niro’s attorney, Richard Schoenstein, described him as a “kind, reasonable [and] generous” boss and told jurors that employees of De Niro’s company, Canal Productions, would prove that in their upcoming testimonies. Schoenstein claimed that Robinson “always played the victim” and described her as “condescending, demeaning, controlling [and] abusive.”
In her October 2019 lawsuit, obtained by NBC News, Robinson stated that some of the “demanding duties” that she did for De Niro included buttoning his shirts, scratching his back and cleaning his apartment. Regarding his sexist comments, Robinson called her former boss “someone who has clung to old mores,” adding, “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.”
Robinson also alleged Canal Productions underpaid her due to her gender. In a countersuit, Canal Productions sued Robinson for allegedly spending thousands of dollars of the company’s money, binge-watching Netflix on the job and transferring hundreds of thousands dollars in airline miles to her personal account, among other allegations, according to The New York Times.
Following the initial news of the lawsuit, lawyer Tom Harvey called Robinson’s allegations against De Niro “beyond absurd” in a statement to Us Weekly.