Attorney General James Secures $4.5 Million from Title Insurance Company for Harmful Labor Practices
First American Financial Corporation Kept No-Poach Agreements with Competitors to Stop Employees from Switching Jobs
AG James has Secured $13.75 Million from Title Insurance Companies for Illegal No-Poach Agreements
NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James today announced an agreement to end anti-worker practices by one of the nation's largest title insurance companies, First American Financial Corporation (First American). An investigation by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) discovered that First American and its competitors entered into illegal no-poach agreements where they would not solicit each other's employees, reducing competition and therefore negatively impacting wages and opportunities for workers. As a result of today's agreement, First American will terminate any existing no-poach agreements, pay the state $4.5 million, and cooperate with OAG's ongoing investigations in the industry. Today's agreement raises the total amount secured by Attorney General James from title insurance companies for illegal no-poach agreements to $13.75 million.
“First American had secret agreements with competitors that harmed workers' career opportunities and unfairly kept wages low,” said Attorney General James. “New York workers should be empowered to grow within their chosen careers, not held back by illegal agreements meant to reduce opportunities for employees. One by one, my office has stopped these harmful and pervasive anti-worker agreements and has held the companies responsible for creating them to account.”
First American issues title insurance policies either directly through its own agency or through independent title insurance agencies. Direct agents and independent agencies are competitors in the labor market and should be able to compete for employees on the basis of salaries, benefits, and career opportunities. First American's no-poach policies with other companies prevented that from happening. The OAG's investigation concluded that First American entered into no-poach agreements with other title insurance companies, and that these agreements effectively reduced career opportunities and wages for workers. Today's agreement ends First American's no-poach agreements and requires the company to pay $4.5 million to the state and cooperate with OAG's ongoing investigations in the industry.
Today's agreement continues Attorney General James' work to stop unlawful no-poach agreements that stifle both competition and careers. Attorney General James has now ended the use of no-poach agreements by the five largest commercial underwriters in the United States, including First American, Fidelity, Old Republic, Stewart, Amtrust, and two of the largest title insurance agencies, First Nationwide and Kensington Vanguard. Attorney General James has also recently led a multistate coalition of 21 attorneys general in support of retail workers — submitting an amicus brief in the Second Circuit, urging the Court to overturn the lower court decision in Giordano v. Saks. In March 2019, Attorney General James and a coalition of attorneys general entered into an agreement with four national fast food franchisors — Dunkin', Arby's, Five Guys, and Little Caesars — that ended their use of no-poach agreements.
This matter was handled by Senior Enforcement Counsel Bryan Bloom, Assistant Attorney General Michael Schwartz, and 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.