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Big title insurer settles with New York over 'no-poaching' agreements

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cabFILE PHOTO: New York State Attorney General, Letitia James, speaks during a news conference in New York City
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By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Old Republic National Title Insurance Co, one of the largest U.S. title insurers, will stop using "no-poach" agreements that prevent workers from moving to rivals, under a settlement on Thursday with New York's attorney general.

The unit of Old Republic International Corp will also pay $1 million under the settlement, resolving an antitrust probe by the office of the attorney general, Letitia James.

Old Republic, based in Chicago, issues policies through agencies it owns or controls, or through independent agencies it appoints.

James said the probe found that Old Republic entered written and verbal no-poach agreements with the independent agencies, including some agreements intended to last after their business relationships ended.

Critics say no-poach agreements drag down wages and impede career growth. James said Old Republic's agreements effectively ended competition to hire top-performing workers.

"For years, Old Republic stifled competition in the labor market, but this agreement ends the company's illegal conduct," James said in a statement.

Old Republic did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but will cooperate in James' probe into no-poach agreements in title insurance.

In 2018 and 2019, several fast food chains including Arby's, Dunkin', Five Guys, Jimmy John's, Little Caesar's and McDonald's agreed to remove no-poach provisions from franchise agreements to end probes by various U.S. states, including New York.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

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