SC restaurant manager ordered to pay $ 500,000 to black employee he enslaved


Bobby Paul Edwards is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence for enslaving John Christopher Smith from 2009 to 2014.

A former South Carolina restaurant manager was ordered to pay more than $ 546,000 in restitution to an employee with an intellectual disability who he put to work more than 100 hours a week without pay.

Bobby paul edwards, 56 is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence for forced labor. He pleaded guilty in 2019 to slavery John christophe smith, 43, 2009-2014 at the J&J Cafeteria in Conway, SC

Bobby Paul Edwards (left) is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence for enslaving John Christopher Smith (right) from 2009 to 2014 at a South Carolina restaurant. (Photos from Horry County Jail and WPDE)

According to Post and courier, Edwards joined the restaurant as a manager where Smith had worked for years as a buffet cook. He had worked at the restaurant for 31 years – apparently since the age of 12.

Smith also lived in an apartment provided by his employer under conditions his lawyers described as “sub-human.”

Edwards, when he took over his family’s business, stopped paying Smith and forced him to work seven days a week and frequently berated him with racist slurs and threats.

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The report notes that Edwards repeatedly assaulted Smith. He would frequently hit him with a belt or pots and pans, punch him and even burn his neck with hot tongs.

Edwards was initially ordered to pay $ 273,000 in unpaid wages, however, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals determined that Smith was entitled to overtime after an appeal.

“When an employer does not pay these amounts (compensation for regular hours and overtime), the employee suffers losses, including the loss of the use of this money during the delay period”, states the decision of call.

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According to reports, Smith was forced to work 6-hour shifts six days a week and an 11-hour shift on Sundays, and he was not paid for much or allowed breaks. Lawyers estimated that Smith was paid around $ 2,842 per year.

He was eventually rescued by social workers who noted bruises and scars on his body. He said he had never told anyone about the treatment out of fear for his life.

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