On June 18, 1998, after eight days of trial, in Bumphus v. Timec, a federal court jury awarded $905,000, including $500,000 in punitive damages against Timec Corporation to John Bumphus. The jury vindicated Mr. Bumphus’ emotional three-year struggle for justice.
Timec provides maintenance, turnaround, and construction services to oil and gas, industrial, and utility customers in the United States. The company had 11 offices in the U.S., specializes in catalyst handling, outsourced training, safety support, small capital construction, specialized welding, supplemental maintenance, and turnkey turnaround services. Timec worked at 39 of the country’s 150 refineries with clients such as Chevron and Shell. Mr. Bumphus and several of his African-American co-workers testified at trial to a pervasive atmosphere of racial bias at Bay Area refineries staffed by Timec, including the use of racial slurs and derogatory remarks about African-Americans by Timec supervisors, and a long history of race discrimination against African-Americans.
John Bumphus started as a Mechanic A with Timec in the Bay Area in October 1989. Over the next six (6) years, he took supervisory classes and made repeated requests to work overtime. He was never given the opportunity to supervise a crew, and he noticed that the overtime opportunities routinely went to his Caucasian co-workers. On one occasion, when he complained about the use of racial slurs on the job, he was laid off for four (4) months. When he complained about the denial of overtime, nothing changed – he continued to be denied overtime and his supervisor told him that Timec did not like “complainers.” When Mr. Bumphus filed a written complaint about the denial of overtime, he was fired in January 1995.
The Law Offices of Pamela Y. Price represented Mr. Bumphus at trial, presenting evidence of a racially hostile work environment and retaliation against Mr. Bumphus. The jury’s unanimous verdict included $400,000 in compensatory damages and $500,000 in punitive damages against Timec. The evidence of race discrimination and retaliation was so compelling that at the beginning of his cross-examination of one long-time African-American employee, Timec’s lawyer apologized to the witness. The jury found that Timec was on notice of the supervisors’ racist attitudes and discriminatory actions, and failed to take reasonable steps to prevent it from occurring.
Following the verdict, a joyful Mr. Bumphus proclaimed “Now I can go on with my life!!”