It’s 2021 and slavery is still alive?
A former South Carolina restaurant manager will now pay bigtime, for putting an employee with intellectual disabilities to work for more than 100 hours a week with no pay.
Bobby Paul Edwards is now serving a 10-year prison sentence for forced labor and owes more than $546,000 in restitution.
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In 2019. the 56-year-old pled guilty to enslaving 43-year-old John Christopher Smith from 2009 to 2014 at J&J Cafeteria located in Conway, S.C.
The Post and Courier reports that Edwards joined the restaurant as a manager where Smith had been working for 31 years as a buffet cook. Smith began working for the restaurant at the age of 12.
He also lived in an apartment provided by the company with conditions his attorneys say were “subhuman.”
When Edwards took over his relatives’ business, he stopped paying Smith and forced him to work seven days a week. He frequently attacked him with racial slurs and threats. Edwards would also use belts, pots, and pans to physically assault him and even resorted to burning his neck with hot tongs.
After an appeal, the initial order to pay Smith $273,000 in unpaid wages was increased. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals determined that he was entitled to overtime.
“(W)hen an employer fails to pay those amounts (regular and overtime pay), the employee suffers losses, which includes the loss of the use of that money during the period of delay,” read the appeal.
After being forced to work 18-hour shifts, six days a week, and an 11-hour stint on Sundays, Smith wasn’t compensated or allowed breaks. His attorneys estimate he was paid $2,842 yearly.
Smith suffered in silence and feared for his life. Social workers eventually came to his rescue after noticing bruises and scars on his body.