Kensington Land Services to pay $1M fine over alleged no-poaching agreements

The New York-based title agency is the sixth title firm fined by the New York Attorney General

New York City-based title insurance agency Kensington Vanguard National Land Services, LLC. is the latest title firm to come under fire from New York Attorney General Letitia James for business practices that “reduce competition and negatively impact wages and opportunities for workers,” according to an announcement on Wednesday.

An investigation by James’ office found that Kensington had entered into illegal no-poach agreements with several of its title underwriters, who also independently sell their own title policies, impeding labor competition, the AG said.

The Office of the Attorney General argued that the direct agents and independent agencies of the underwriters’ whose policies Kensington sells “are competitors in the labor market and should be able to compete for employees on the basis of salaries, benefits, and career opportunities. Kensington’s no-poach policies with its underwriters prevented that from happening.”

“The OAG’s investigation concluded that Kensington entered into no-poach agreements with title insurance underwriters and those agreements effectively reduced career opportunities and wages for workers,” the statement reads.

As a result of the investigation, Kensington must end any alleged existing no-poach agreements, pay the state $1 million and cooperate with any ongoing investigations into the industry.

“Hard work and experience in any career is supposed to help employees grow and achieve better wages and opportunities,” James said in a statement. “However, when companies illegally collude and make no-poach agreements, they hold workers back. No-poach agreements have become a systemic problem in the title insurance industry and that is why my office has been focused on rooting out this unacceptable practice to protect workers. New Yorkers deserve fair pay for their hard work and experience, and their career growth should never be threatened by companies cutting illegal deals with competitors.” 

This is not the first no-poach agreement to be called into question in recent months. In July 2022, James’s office ended no-poach agreements made by AmTrust, as well as those made by Old Republic in September of 2021, Stewart in December 2022 and Fidelity in March 2023. Overall, James’ office has received $9.25 million in fines from title insurance companies for illegal no-poach agreements.

Kensington had not returned a request for comment at the time of publication.

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