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New York Attorney General Letitia James has reached an agreement with a title insurance company and its partner to end illegal "no-poach" agreements and pay the state a $1.25 million fine.
The agreement with AmTrust Title Insurance Co. and First Nationwide Title Agency (collectively AmTrust) also includes the company agreeing to cooperate with James' ongoing investigations of the industry.
James said that, for years, AmTrust entered into illegal no-poach agreements with their competitors to thwart labor competition.
“Workers should be free to make their own career choices without illegal corporate limitations,” James said. “AmTrust's no-poach agreements made this impossible, and denied workers access to a fair labor market. As we've shown through repeated action, my office will continue to protect workers and end illegal corporate practices that lead to lower pay and less advancement opportunity for hardworking New Yorkers. Anticompetitive behavior will not go unchecked in New York.”
AmTrust issues title insurance policies, either through First Nationwide or through independent title insurance agencies that it appoints, the attorney general said. Direct agents and independent agencies are competitors in the labor market and "should compete for employees on the basis of salaries, benefits, and career opportunities," the AG said. AmTrust’s “no-poach” policies prevented that from happening, she said.
A “no-poach” policy is an agreement among two or more companies not to solicit, recruit, or hire each other’s employees.
"In a well-functioning labor market, employers don’t need no-poach agreements and, instead, compete by offering higher wages or enhanced benefits to attract the most valuable talent for their needs," James said in a news release. "No-poach agreements reduce competition for employees and disrupt the normal compensation-setting mechanisms, to the detriment of the affected employees."
James’ investigation concluded that AmTrust entered into no-poach agreements with other title insurance companies, and that the agreements effectively stifled competition for employees between AmTrust and their competitors, potentially impacting New York workers. The investigation did not identify any procompetitive justifications for these agreements.
The agreement ensures competition in the labor market for workers. As a result, AmTrust has agreed to end all existing no-poach agreements and discontinue the practice of entering into such agreements.
Today’s agreement builds on James’ past efforts to protect workers and stop harmful labor practices. In September 2021, James ended the use of “no-poach” agreements by Old Republic National Title.
The matter was handled by Senior Enforcement Counsel Bryan Bloom, Deputy Bureau Chief Amy McFarlane, under the supervision of Bureau Chief Elinor Hoffmann — all of the Antitrust Bureau. The Antitrust Bureau is a part of the Division for Economic Justice, which is overseen by Chief Deputy Attorney General Chris D’Angelo and First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.