Ikea France fined €1m for snooping on staff

Ikea France


A French court has ordered Ikea to pay a fine of €1m (£860,000; $1.2m) after the Swedish furniture chain was found guilty of spying on staff in France.

The former CEO of Ikea France, Jean-Louis Baillot, was given a two-year suspended jail term and €50,000 fine.

The French subsidiary was found to have used private detectives and police officers to collect private data on staff. Evidence came to light in 2012.

Stung by the affair, Ikea fired four managers and got a new code of conduct.

The 15 people in the dock at the Versailles court included top executives and former store managers.

Four police officers were also on trial for handing over confidential information.

The mass surveillance system was used by store managers to vet job applicants, as well as checking up on their staff.

Hundreds of staff targeted

The prosecution had called for a €2m fine for Ikea and for Baillot to spend a year in prison, along with two years suspended.

The case centred on Ikea France’s surveillance of staff during 2009-2012. The scandal was exposed by journalists, then trade unions took legal action.

The illegal surveillance covered about 400 people, state prosecutor Pamela Tabardel said.

“What’s at stake is the protection of our private lives against the threat of mass surveillance,” she said when the trial opened in March.

Managers were found to have used a private security firm, Eirpace, which in turn collected personal data from the police. It included information about lifestyles and any previous criminal convictions.

Read more on other surveillance issues:

The French daily Le Monde described how the spying worked at the Ikea store in Avignon.

Store manager Patrick Soavi told the court how he had got personal data from a cousin in the police.

“I recognise that I was very naïve and rather over-zealous, but we were being asked to carry out these checks, and once I’d put a foot inside this system it was too late,” he said.

He asked the policeman, Alain Straboni, to “cast an eye” over 49 candidates selected for Ikea jobs.

After a search on the police computer the reply was that three of them had committed minor offences.

Later Mr Soavi sent another 68 names to be checked, and he was advised to drop five of the candidates.