A judge ruled two weeks ago that a former restaurant manager in South Carolina owes $546,000 to a man he enslaved, deeming the manager guilty of “coercing an African-American man with an intellectual disability to work extensive hours at a restaurant for no pay.”

The manager, 56-year-old Bobby Paul Edwards, is serving a 10-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to one count of forced labor. Edwards forced John Christopher Smith, 43, to work at J&J Cafeteria without pay. 

Edwards was originally ordered to pay Smith $273,000 in unpaid wages and overtime compensation, according to court documents. But federal prosecutors appealed the decision and argued he should be paid more due to the delay in payment, according to the Post and Courier, as Edwards worked over 100 hours a week without pay. The DOJ said in a release that Smith would beat Edwards with a belt, pots, pans, and his fists. 

“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,” the court said. “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.”

Smith had performed labor at J&J since 1990, when he was 12, and Edwards originally pleaded guilty in 2019 to not paying Edwards between 2009-14.