Ikea’s French unit has been accused of having a detailed system in place to spy on its employees and job applicants. It is alleged that private detectives as well as police officers were part of the spy network. A legal complaint against the Company, and as a result, it is now facing trial. Many of its former executives may end up serving a sentence.
Media reports say that the spying system came to light about eight years ago, but investigations began only after a formal complaint was filed by the Force Ouvriere union. Ever since the matter has been made public, four executives have been terminated, and a heavy fine, to the tune of $4.5 million, has been slapped on the Company.
The spy network was spread across its operations in France, and gathered personal information pertaining to the lives of its existing employees and those who applied for jobs there. In fact, it even collected confidential information, such as criminal records.
Fifteen employees have already appeared before the court including former store managers and even senior executives, including a former director of risk management and two former CEOs. In addition, four police officers have been charged with passing on confidential information.
Some of the charges, such as collecting personal information illegally or receiving such information and violation of professional confidentiality are offences that can send the accused to prison for about 10 years.
One of the senior executives facing trial is reported to have sent lists of employees to private investigators who were paid to the tune of almost six lakh euros a year for their investigative work. They used to spy on staff to find out why some of them may suddenly have come by extra wealth, or be able to afford expensive things or shown changes in behaviour or performance.