IKEA France has been fined €1 million ($1.2 million) after it was found guilty of spying on staff, a Versailles court has ruled.
Meanwhile, the former CEO of Ikea France, Jean-Louis Baillot, was given a two-year suspended jail term and €50,000 fine.
The French subsidiary of the Swedish furniture chain 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.
Ikea’s annual bill for private investigators ran to as much as €600,000, AFP reports, citing court documents.
In one case, AFP reports, Ikea’s former head of risk wanted to know how an employee could afford a new BMW convertible; he also inquired why a staff member in Bordeaux had “suddenly become a protester”.
That executive, Jean-François Paris, was given an 18-month suspended sentence and a €10,000 fine.
The prosecution had called for a €2 million fine for Ikea and for Baillot to spend a year in prison, along with a further two years suspended.
The case centered on Ikea France’s surveillance of staff from 2009 to 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.
The Eirpace boss, Jean-Pierre Fourès, was given a two-year suspended sentence and a €20,000 fine.
When the trial opened, Ikea France issued a statement saying it “strongly condemned” the privacy violations and it apologized for “this situation which does serious harm to the company’s values and ethical standards”.