Treating a mentally handicapped human like a slave.. ! “..owner Ernest J. Edwards and manager Bobby Paul Edwards… https://t.co/4W8pOUcTyi
— RFT (@RaceForTheTimes) November 18, 2015
A handicapped Black man is seeking justice after being rescued from a boss who physically and mentally abused him for years.
J&J Cafeteria restaurant owner Ernest J. Edwards and manager Bobby Paul Edwards are being sued for false imprisonment, discrimination, and unfair labor practices against 37-year-old John Christopher Smith, The Post & Courier reports.
The former employee claims he was hit with frying pans and beat with belts towards the end of his nearly two-decade-long employment. Smith started working at the Conway, South Carolina restaurant at the age of 12, washing dishes and tables. He suffers from mild delayed cognitive development, causing him to function below average.
Beginning in 2010, Edwards was viciously ridiculed by Bobby Paul Edwards, who would constantly call him the N-word and beat him with grease-covered tongs, butcher knives, and belt buckles. The beatings occurred in a walk-in freezer, where other employees could hear Smith in agonizing pain. Waitresses told reporters they were afraid to say anything out of fear. Smith was also terrified to report the abuse. His lawyers claim he was forced to work 18-hour shifts six days a week and 11-hour shifts on Sundays with little to no breaks. During his employment, Smith was only paid $2,842 yearly.
In Oct. 2014, one of the waitresses informed her mother-in-law about the abuse. Geneane Caines called the police, the Conway NAACP, and the Department of Social Services. Scars on Smith’s neck from the tong burns gave credence to the investigation, leading to the manager’s arrest in Nov. 2014. He was charged with second-degree assault and battery.
Paul Edwards is currently free on a $10,000 bond and was ordered not to speak to Smith or leave the state.