Asheville-based distribution center denied 152 workers full wages, violated federal law

AFG Distribution on Bingham Road in Asheville violated federal labor laws by withholding wages from more than 150 of its employees, according to the U.S. Labor Department.
AFG Distribution on Bingham Road in Asheville violated federal labor laws by withholding wages from more than 150 of its employees, according to the U.S. Labor Department.

ASHEVILLE - An Asheville-based distribution center violated federal law by curbing wages for 152 employees according to a release from the U.S. Department of Labor.

The company, AFG Distribution, which has a warehouse at 59 Bingham Road in Asheville, banked overtime hours worked by some employees and offered them back to workers as paid leave on an hour-for-hour basis, according to the Feb. 2 release.

The department recovered a total $287,923 in back wages and liquidated damages for 152 workers after its investigation, the release stated.

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By banking the overtime hours and offering them as paid leave, AFG “failed to pay the additional half-time premium for those overtime hours,” the release stated, which is a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

AFG also failed to pay the additional overtime premium on monthly commissions earned by sales personnel and on quarterly bonuses paid to employees when they worked more than 40 hours in a workweek, the release noted.

In response to a request for comment, AFG Vice President James Magura told the Citizen Times the money had been returned and that the issue was "not deliberate."

"We were happy to have reimbursed and resolved this issue immediately with our employees once we realized we were not in compliance," Magura said. "AFG Distribution did not deliberately mean to affect our valued employees, who are our greatest assets. Our employees are THE reason AFG has experienced such rapid growth over the past 24 years in business, and we are constantly learning how to navigate that success. This issue involved our management and specialist staff only. Our general workforce did receive overtime wages. We are very excited to be distributing out of our newly constructed state of the art facility in Asheville, and look forward to many more years in a city we love and treasure so much."

AFG was established in 1999. It is a wholesale gift and novelty and supply store that distributes numerous items, many with recreational smoking and vaping themes and uses.

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“Employers are responsible for paying all employees correctly for all the hours they work. Failure to do so deprives workers of their hard-earned wages,” Raleigh-based Wage and Hour Division District Director Richard Blaylock said. “The U.S. Department of Labor provides numerous tools to help employers comply with the law, and we encourage employers and employees alike to contact us for assistance.”

Those interested can learn more about the U.S. Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division at A search tool at this site may help employees discover if they are owed back wages collected by the division.

For confidential compliance assistance, employees and employers can call the agency’s helpline at 866-487-9243.

Andrew Jones is an investigative reporter for the Asheville Citizen Times, part of the USA TODAY Network. Reach him at @arjonesreports on Facebook and Twitter, 828-226-6203 or Please help support this type of journalism with a subscription to the Citizen Times.

This article originally appeared on Asheville Citizen Times: Asheville-based smoke novelty distribution hub curbed worker wages