Old Republic International will pay $ 1 million to the New York attorney general to settle allegations that the title insurer partnered with unspecified agencies to promote anti-competitive hiring practices.
Specifically, the company was accused of having made no-poach agreements with title agencies, in which all parties promised not to recruit, recruit or hire any employee of the other.
"Old Republic stifled competition in the job market for years, but this agreement puts an end to the company's illegal behavior and alerts all businesses that New York State will not tolerate solicitation," Attorney General Letitia James said in a press release. "My office will continue to investigate non-solicitation contracts that may harm New York workers and fight to end these anti-competitive practices once and for all."
This is the first such enforcement lawsuit filed by New York against a mortgage or real estate company. In 2019, James was part of a group of Attorney General's offices that reached a settlement with four fast food franchisers over the practice.
Old Republic has neither admitted nor denied the findings under the settlement agreement. A request for comments from the company was not returned.
Old Republic's title business, like most in the industry, wins new searches and policies from both its own operations – known in the industry as the Direct Channel – and independent agencies.
These two channels thus compete for businesses and employees, much as mortgage lenders and retail mortgage brokers do.
In a normal market, the NYAG press release stated, corporations compete by offering higher wages or advanced benefits to attract the most valuable talent to their needs. But solicitation bans reduce that competition and disrupt the normal mechanisms for setting compensation to the detriment of workers.
On the other hand, some mortgage companies in the past have accused competitors of prosecuting their workers in order to steal customers or gain trade secrets.
Old Republic will assist NYAG in investigating no-poach deals in the title industry.
A clause in the settlement requires Old Republic to notify NYAG if it learns of any efforts by a competitor to enter into or enforce a non-solicitation agreement within the next 10 years.
In addition to the $ 1 million penalty, Old Republic has agreed to pay $ 50,000 per month under the Agreement, which will take place after the Effective Date of September 3, “for each such delay in performing an obligation " to pay.
The American Land Title Association declined to comment on the announcement. The New York Land Title Association did not respond to a request for comment.