Paralegal Takes On Breast-Focused Attorney

     WAUKEGAN, Ill. (CN) — An attorney who made headlines for claiming that opposing counsel used a “large-breasted woman” to distract the jury now faces sexual-harassment claims from his former paralegal.
     Filing suit last week in Lake County Circuit Court, Paige Willis says her 14 months working as a paralegal at Gauthier & Gooch were marked by fat jokes and comparisons to cows and horses.
     Willis, 33, says attorney Thomas Gooch made oral comments and sent her text messages implying that she was as “slutty” and warning her “not to tempt him” because she is “tempting enough already.”
     “If you were mine I’d tie you to the bumper of my car and make you run along side it because you’re so fat now, no one would want you,” he said once, according to the June 24 complaint.
     Gooch is the same attorney who made headlines in 2011 for filing a motion during a trial to bar “a large breasted woman at counsel’s table.”
     “There is no evidence whatsoever that this woman has any legal training whatsoever,” Gooch wrote, “and the sole purpose of her presence at plaintiff’s counsel’s table is to draw the attention of the jury away from the relevant proceedings before this court.
     Gooch called for a ban on the buxom woman pending proof “that this woman has any sort of legal background.”
     Opposing counsel called for sanctions, saying the woman, who happened to be his wife, was his paralegal.
     Gooch has not returned a phone call or email seeking comment about the lawsuit he now faces from Willis.
     The 14-page complaint alleges similar demeaning attitudes toward the function of women in court proceedings.
     Willis says Gooch once texted her to “wear something sleezy” to court because “sleezy judges are pervs.”
     “Of course a female judge could be bad news unless of course she is…well u know,” the text continued, as quoted in the complaint.
     Willis says she put up with the “harassing, demeaning” treatment from her hiring in 2013 to her termination last year, her requests for help “ignored.”
     In addition to suing for sexual harassment, Willis seeks damages for disability discrimination, retaliation and failure to accommodate.
     Willis allegedly needed emergency surgery after a fall worsened her pre-existing back condition on Feb. 24, 2015.
     When Willis tried to call out of work on Feb. 25, Gooch terminated her that day, according to the complaint.
     In addition to Gooch and his firm, Willis also named as a defendant the attorney’s law partner Michael Gauthier.
     She is represented by Kevin O’Connor of O’Connor O’Conner in Elmhurst, Ill.
     The attorney defendants have not returned an email or phone call seeking comment made Friday morning.

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