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IKEA France ordered to pay $1 million as fine for spying on employees

Photo by: Rendy Novantino/Unsplash

IKEA France was ordered by the local court to pay €1 million or around $1.2 million in fine after investigations concluded that it is guilty of inappropriately using its employee data. The verdict was handed down on Tuesday, June 15, at a court in Versailles.

The company’s alleged wrongdoings

CNN Business reported that the French unit of the Swedish retail company, IKEA, has been involved in a trial for alleged spying. The company is facing a lawsuit against its former employee.

Aside from the company itself, 15 individuals, including former IKEA France executives, are on the charge sheet for the alleged spying system that they used to monitor or check on current and potential workers. It was said that this invasive system and practice was carried out between 2009 and 2012.

In the court documents, it was revealed that the French IKEA unit paid private investigators to collect private information about its current and potential employees. It was added that the company also demanded an investigation into an individual who used to be the company’s "model employee" but suddenly turned aggressive or “become very militant."

There was also an instance when the company higher-ups requested a discreet and thorough investigation for one of its employees. The aim of the spying is to find out if he has any illegal activities that can merit a police investigation and eventually become a reason for him to be expelled from the company.

IKEA France’s response to the verdict

In connection to the case, IKEA France's former CEO, Jean-Louis Baillot, was sentenced to two years in jail. He was also required to pay the €50,000 or $60,500 fine. However, he will not spend time in prison yet as he received a two-year suspended prison sentence.

Despite the judgment, Baillot continued to deny he committed any wrongdoing during the trial. Meanwhile, as per Reuters, IKEA France is reviewing the decision of the court to determine if there is still anything it could do aside from taking steps to eradicate the surveillance tactics.

"IKEA Retail France has strongly condemned the practices,” the company stated after the verdict’s release. “We apologize and will implement a major action plan to prevent this from happening again."

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