Story at a glance

  • A court has ruled that a former restaurant manager imprisoned for forcing an intellectually disabled Black man to work 100-hour weeks without pay must give the man more than $500,000.
  • The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Smith should get additional compensation for overtime amounting to $546,000.
  • Edwards pleaded guilty to not paying Smith wages for his work between 2009 and 2014 while he was the manager at the J&J Cafeteria in Conway, S.C.

A court has ruled that a former restaurant manager imprisoned for forcing an intellectually disabled Black man to work 100-hour weeks without pay must give the man more than $500,000.

Bobby Paul Edwards was previously ordered to pay John Christopher Smith, who started working for Edwards in 2009, $273,000 in backpay, The Post and Courier reported. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Smith should get additional compensation for overtime amounting to $546,000. 

The final decision will be made in district court, according to the Post and Courier. 


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Edwards pleaded guilty to not paying Smith wages for his work between 2009 and 2014 while he was the manager at the J&J Cafeteria in South Carolina. Smith had been employed at the restaurant since 1990 when he was 12-years-old. 

Court records show Edwards forced Smith to work 6 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday through Friday and 6 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, without a day off, according to the New York Post

Edwards allegedly whipped and beat Smith (identified as "Jack" in court records) in addition to subjecting him to racial epithets. 

“Once, when Jack failed to deliver fried chicken to the buffet as quickly as Edwards had demanded, Edwards dipped metal tongs into hot grease and pressed them to Jack’s neck, resulting in a burn that fellow employees had to immediately treat,” the court ruling said, according to The Post. 

“I wanted to get out of that place so bad but couldn’t think about how I could without being hurt,” Smith said. 

Edwards was arrested in 2014 on assault and battery charges and pleaded guilty to one count of forced labor in 2019. 


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Published on May 04, 2021