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A federal court has ruled that a South Carolina restaurant manager who forced a black man with intellectual disabilities to work in excess of 100 hours a week without pay owes more than $500,000 to the man he effectively enslaved.
The Post and Courier reported last week that the defendant, Bobby Paul Edwards, has been ordered to pay John Christopher Smith, a 43-year-old black man, $546,000 in restitution.
Edwards is currently serving a 10-year sentence on one count of forced labor for coercing Smith to work extensive hours for no pay at J&J Cafeteria in Conway, South Carolina, between 2009 and 2014, according to a Department of Justice press release.
In his original sentencing in November 2019, Edwards was ordered to pay Smith $273,000 in restitution, a figure that covered the minimum wages and overtime pay he had been previously denied. But after federal prosecutors appealed citing the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Fourth Circuit ruled that Smith is entitled to more money since there was considerable delay in his being paid.
“When an employer fails to pay those amounts, the employee suffers losses, which includes the loss of the use of that money during the period of delay. So fully compensating the employee requires accounting for losses from the delay,” the court wrote in its decision, adding, “These additional losses could, in part, be compensated by interest.”