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Intellectually disabled man enslaved by boss awarded $546,000

Bobby Paul Edwards
Reuben Long Detention Center

An intellectually disabled man has been awarded $546,000 after he was enslaved for nearly 23 years by his former boss.

An appellate court ruled in favor of John Christopher Smith who was reportedly forced to work 18 hour days, six days a week at J&J Cafeteria for no pay.

According to the report, the owner Bobby Paul Edwards forced Smith to work extremely long hours, beat him, and forced Smith to live in a cockroach invested apartment directly behind the business.

Investigators said that while Edwards family was fully aware of the situation, they did nothing to stop it and when Smith’s family came looking for him, Edwards would lock him inside of a freezer or hid in other ways so that the family could not make contact with him.

At one point, Smith managed to escape, however, Edwards reportedly “hit him in the head with a frying pan, burned with hot tongs, beat him with belt-buckles and called the n-word repeatedly.”

Edwards was finally caught and arrested in 2019 for “coercing an African-American man with an intellectual disability to work extensive hours at a restaurant for no pay.”

He has been sentenced to 10 years behind bars.

Smith was initially awarded $273,000 in unpaid wages and overtime compensation, however, he has since been granted $546,000 after it was noted that ” 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 argued in its filing.