The restaurant manager who forced a black man to work without pay owes more than US $ 500K in his reinstatement: Court

A South Carolina man was forced to work more than 100 hours each year without pay and was subjected to verbal and physical abuse, close to US $ 273,000 in restitution after being convicted by his former manager Was about to receive.

But that initial amount was too low, an appellate court ruled in April. According to the ruling, that person should have received more than double that amount – close to $ 546,000 – from manager to federal labor laws.

John Christopher Smith was forced to work for years without pay in a cafeteria in Conway. His manager, Bobby Edwards, pleaded guilty to forced labor in 2018 and was sentenced to 10 years in prison for abusing Smith, a black man who is an intellectual.

In 2019, a US District Court judge ordered Edwards, who is white, to pay Smith $ 273,000 in restitution, which represented Smith’s unpaid pay and overtime.

But the court called the reinstatement “a failure to include damaged fluids”, a provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act that would double the amount of Smith’s reinstatement received, according to an April 4 US Circuit Court of Appliances ruling in Richmond, In Virginia.

The Fair Labor Standards Act’s Liquidated-Damage Provision believes that failing to timely pay a worker’s wages is detrimental to that worker’s “minimum standard of living”, then paying them double that amount Should be done, the Supreme Court decided in 1945.

“When an employer fails to pay those amounts, the employee suffers a loss, including loss of use of that money during the delayed period,” the federal appeals court said.

The district court will now calculate Smith’s dues.

CNN has reached out to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in South Carolina and the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, which ordered the original restitution payment for comment.

Smith abused for years

Smith started working as a part-time dishwasher in the cafeteria when he was 12 years old, according to a recent ruling. In his first 19 years of employment, when the restaurant was managed by other members of Edwards’ family, he was paid.

But when Edwards took over the restaurant in 2009, Smith was moved to an apartment next to the restaurant and, according to the ruling, was forced to work more than 100 hours each week without pay.

“Edwards took advantage of Jack’s intellectual disability and forced Jack to isolate him from his family, threatening to arrest him and verbally abusing him,” the ruling reads.

Edwards feared, says Smith, who once dipped the metal tongs into grease and smacked Smith’s neck when Smith failed to hurry up the buffet with fried chicken, such a ruling. Have to say Edwards kills Smith with his belt, punching him and beating him with kitchen pants, leaving Smith “physically and psychologically frightened,” according to the rule.

But Smith also feared what might happen if he tried to escape, he told CNN affiliate WPDE in 2017.

“I wanted to get out of there a long time ago. But I didn’t have anyone I could go for,” he told the aide. “I can’t go anywhere. I couldn’t see any of my family.”

The ruling says a relative of an employee alerted authorities of misconduct in 2014, and the South Carolina Department of Social Services fired Smith from the restaurant that year.

“We’re talking about slavery here,” said Abdulla Mustafa, president of the local chapter of the NAACP at the time.

CNN has reached out to the Conway chapter of the South Carolina NAACP for comment.


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