Five title insurance companies have paid $8.25 million in the last 18 months to settle antitrust allegations leveled by New York Attorney General Letitia James.

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The nation’s largest title insurer, Fidelity National Financial Inc., has agreed to pay $3.5 million to settle allegations by New York authorities that it entered into illegal no-poach agreements with competitors who agreed not to solicit each other’s employees.

Fidelity is the fifth title insurance company to settle with New York Attorney General Letitia James in the last 18 months in order to resolve claims that such agreements violate state and federal antitrust laws by reducing competition, wages and opportunities for workers.

Letitia James

“New Yorkers deserve fair pay for their hard work and experience in their fields, and their career growth should never be threatened by a company’s desire to save money on wages,” James said in an announcement Wednesday. “My office will continue standing up for workers’ rights by stopping no-poach agreements and holding companies accountable for their bad actions.”

Fidelity neither admitted or denied the allegations, but agreed to submit a compliance program to “avoid any future violations of the antitrust laws,” and to cooperate with the attorney general’s ongoing investigation of the industry.

If in the future Fidelity is found to have “knowingly withheld documents or information known to relate to any no-poach agreements with competitors,” the agreement stipulates that it will pay a penalty of $1 million for each agreement — regardless of whether Fidelity was a participant.

The settlement brings the total penalties collected by New York from five title insurance companies to $8.25 million:

  • In September 2021, Old Republic National Title Insurance Company agreed to pay $1 million, terminate any existing no-poach agreements and cooperate with ongoing investigations by the attorney general’s office.
  • In July 2022, James announced AmTrust Title Insurance Company and First Nationwide Title Agency had agreed to pay $1.25 million to settle allegations that they entered into illegal no-poach agreements to thwart labor competition.
  • Most recently, Stewart Title Guaranty Corp. agreed in December to pay New York $2.5 million to settle similar no-poach allegations.

In announcing the agreement with Fidelity, the Office of the New York State Attorney General noted that Fidelity 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,” regulators said in announcing the agreement. “Fidelity’s no-poach policies with other companies prevented that from happening.”

New York launched its crackdown on the title insurance industry’s hiring practices after joining with other states to reach an agreement in 2019 ending the use of “no-poach” agreements by four national fast food franchisors — Dunkin’, Arby’s, Five Guys and Little Caesars.

“New York has always been a place for individuals to achieve their dreams, but when companies illegally collude to deny workers the opportunity to pursue better jobs, they hamper those dreams,” James said.

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Email Matt Carter

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