South Carolina Man enslaved by White manager should receive more than $500,000 in restitution, court says

A man who was enslaved by a restaurant manager from 2009 to 2014 should have been paid more money after his captor plead guilty, according to a South Carolina appeals court. John “Jack” Christopher Smith was awarded $272,952.96 in restitution in 2019  which represented minimum wage and overtime he wasn’t paid while working at J&J Cafeteria in Conway, South Carolina. Smith, who has intellectual disability and an IQ of 70, was forced to work over 100 hours per week without pay by Bobby Edwards, who took over management of J&J Cafeteria in 2009 according to CBS News.

Smith worked at the restaurant as a dishwasher since 1990, but when Edwards took over, he began taking advantage of Smith, forcing him to work. “Edwards effected this forced labor by taking advantage of Jack’s intellectual disability and keeping Jack isolated from his family, threatening to have him arrested, and verbally abusing him,” according to court documents. “His control over Jack also involved physical abuse.”

In 2019 Edwards pleaded guilty one count of forced labor and the district court sentenced him to 120 months’ in prison. At the time, U.S. Attorney Sherri A. Lydon said Edwards “has earned every day of his sentence,” for stealing “his victim’s freedom and wages.”

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office will not tolerate forced or exploitative labor in South Carolina, and we are grateful to the watchful citizen and our partners in law enforcement who put a stop to this particularly cruel violence,” Lydon said.

Edwards was ordered to pay nearly $273,000 in restitution to Smith, however, government requested an additional $272,952.96  but the district court rejected that request. The Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit says the previous restitution didn’t account for federal labor laws entitling Smith to $546,000 total.The court says that when an employer fails to pay, the employee suffers losses, including “the loss of the use of that money during the period of delay.”According to CBS News, to compensate Smith for any additional losses, the amount of his restitution will be doubled, the court suggests. The appeals court has vacated the district court’s award of restitution and is asking for recalculation.

Link to original source

Leave a Reply