Edwards pleaded guilty in June of last year to one count of forced labor for forcing Smith to work long hours without pay. The white manager used violence, threats and intimidation at an African-American employee at a Conway restaurant, according to the Justice Department. using a belt, and he was hit by pots and pans, federal officials said.
Smith has intellectual disabilities, and is afraid of losing his job. At times, Edwards would burn his bare neck with warm ears so he could work faster, federal authorities said.
"It is almost undisputed that instances of forced labor have endured in this country to this day – a century and a half after the Emancipation Proclamation," said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division. "The Department of Justice will continue to investigate, prosecute, and convince human traffickers involved in forced labor, seeking justice on behalf of their victims."
Victims say he was separated from his relatives
"I wanted to be out there for a long time. But I didn't have anyone I could go to," he told the affiliate. "I can't go anywhere. I can't see any of my family."
In October 2014, a frequent customer noticed scars on his body when he placed food and called authorities, removing Smith from the restaurant, the affiliate said. The victim has been around for almost 40 years now.
The organization was instrumental in assisting complaints in the Justice and Labor departments.