Bobby Paul Edwards (l) enslaved Smith (r).

White American to pay $.546k to enslaved black man

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A man with an intellectual disability who was enslaved by a restaurant owner in South Carolina for five years should be awarded $546,000, a court ruled on Monday.

The amount which was ordered by an appellate court is an upgrade from earlier judgment by a district court which had awarded half the amount in the original judgment in 2019 when Bobby Paul Edwards was sentenced on the charges of forced  labour.

Bobby Paul Edwards (l) enslaved Smith (r).

Bobby Paul Edwards, who owned the J&J Cafeteria in Conway, South Carolina, had pleaded guilty in the 2019 case to one count of forced labor for “coercing an African-American man with an intellectual disability to work extensive hours at a restaurant for no pay.”

The Justice Department had declared in a press release that Mr. Edwards was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

As part of the settlement, Edwards was also ordered to pay John Christopher Smith $273,000 in unpaid wages and overtime compensation.

Edwards forced his victim simply identified as Mr Smith to work over 100 hours a week without pay. He would also beat him with a belt, fists, and pots and pans, the press release said.

On April 21, the Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit ruled that Smith was entitled to double that amount, which would be $546,000.

The court said the district court did not properly account for federal labor laws when it made the decision on compensation.

“Minimum wages and overtime compensation must be paid on a current basis as work is done, such that an employee receives the prescribed compensation without delay. 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,” the court said in its filing.

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