The French branch of Ingka Group, which owns most Ikea stores worldwide, was accused of snooping on its workers and also some clients over several years.
The flatpack furniture group, which has recognised there were some improper practices, was accused of breaching employees' privacy by reviewing records of their bank accounts and sometimes even using fake employees to write up reports on staff. According to worker representatives, the information was used to target union leaders in some cases or used to Ikea's advantage in disputes with customers, after the firm trawled data on people's finances and even what cars they drove. Reportedly, it was also found to have paid for access to police files.
"Ikea Retail France has strongly condemned the practices, apologised and implemented a major action plan to prevent this from happening again," said the Ingka group.
In the case, firm's former chief executive in France, Jean-Louis Baillot, was found guilty and handed a two-year suspended prison sentence. Judges also fined him 50,000 euros for storing personal data. Although the prosecutors had been trying for a 2 million euro fine, french court on Tuesday ordered Ikea to pay a 1 Mn euro ($1.2 Mn) fine.
The prosecutors, Union, and other people seeking compensation, said the final amount was not hefty, but welcomed the outcome.
"It's the symbolism here that matters," said Solene Debarre, a lawyer representing the CGT.