By Tony Winterburn • 22 March 2021 • 11:23
Ikea France Taken To Court Over Claims Of Illegally Spying On Employees. image: Pinterest
Ikea France Taken To Court Over Claims Of Illegally Spying On Employees And Customers.
Ikea’s French subsidiary and several of its executives are set to go on trial today, Monday, March 22, over accusations that they illegally spied on employees and customers.
Trade unions actually reported the furniture and home goods company to French authorities back in 2012 and accused it of collecting personal data by fraudulent means and the illicit collection and disclosure of personal information.
The unions specifically alleged that Ikea France had paid to gain access to police files that had information about targeted individuals. Ikea France denied spying on anyone, however, Sweden-based Ikea had already fired four executives in France after French prosecutors opened a criminal probe in 2012.
One accusation alleged that Ikea France used unauthorised data to try to catch an employee who had claimed unemployment benefits but was found to drive a Porsche. Another says the subsidiary investigated an employee’s criminal record to determine how the employee was able to own a BMW on a low income.
The company is also in a dispute with some customers that have alleged their personal information has been inappropriately accessed.
The former head of Ikea France’s risk management department, Jean-François Paris, acknowledged to French judges that €530,000 to €630,000 a year were earmarked for such investigations. Paris, who is among those accused, said his department was responsible for handling it.
Former Ikea France CEOs Jean-Louis Baillot and Stefan Vanoverbeke, and former Chief Financial Officer Dariusz Rychert and store managers are also going on trial.
If convicted, the two ex-CEOs face sentences of up to 10 years in prison and fines of €750,000. Ikea France faces a maximum penalty of €3.75 million – the trial is scheduled to last until at least April 2.
The company also faces potential damages from civil lawsuits filed by unions and 74 employees that could amount up to millions.
Ikea France is a subsidiary of Swedish furniture giant Ikea which in 2012 said it was cooperating with French judicial authorities and had adopted procedures to prevent illegal activity.
“It would appear inconceivable that a company of this size, with several stores in different countries, would not be aware of the illegality of the private data available to it,” investigating judges involved in the case said.
In France, Ikea employs more than 10,000 people in 34 stores, an e-commerce site and a customer support centre.
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