PARIS (Reuters) – A French court on Tuesday ordered IKEA to pay a fine of 1 million euros ($ 1.21 million) for spying on its French staff, after the world’s largest furniture retailer was recognized guilty of inappropriately collecting and storing data about its employees.
The French branch of the Swedish company has been accused of snooping its employees for several years and violating their privacy by reviewing their bank account statements and sometimes using bogus employees to write staff reports.
The prosecution had demanded a fine of 2 million euros against the company, owned by the Ingka group.
The company said it was reviewing the court ruling to see if further action was needed, after taking steps to eliminate surveillance tactics.
“IKEA Retail France strongly condemned the practices, apologized and put in place a major action plan to prevent this from happening again,” the company said.
The former general manager of the kit furniture company in France, Jean-Louis Baillot, was also found guilty in this case and sentenced to two years in prison. The judges fined him 50,000 euros for having kept personal data.
The allegations focused on the period 2009-2012, although prosecutors said the espionage tactics began in the early 2000s.
Several store managers and human resources employees as well as a private investigator and police officers were among those targeted by the allegations.
IKEA has also been accused of spying on some customers in the case. He fired several managers and overhauled his internal policy after the allegations came to light in 2012.
The group has been accused of going through employee data to check their finances and personal lives. He acknowledged some of these tactics, although he denied setting up a widespread espionage system.
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Reporting by Caroline Pailliez, Additional reporting by Anna Ringstrom in Stockholm; Writing by Sarah White; Editing Matthieu Protard and Christian Lowe