Ikea faces justice for spying on its employees



After eight years of investigation, the Ikea trial opens on Monday March 22 before the Versailles Criminal Court. Criminal record, lifestyle, dating: the French subsidiary of the Swedish furniture giant is accused of illegally obtaining information on the personal lives of employees and job applicants.

On the dock, the former CEO Jean-Louis Baillot; the former director of the risk management department, Jean-François Paris; several store managers; managers of private security companies as well as current representatives of Ikea France. They are prosecuted for collection and concealment ” personal data contained in a file by fraudulent, unfair or unlawful means »Over a period from 2009 to 2012, the previous facts being prescribed.

Five police officers or former police officers are also appearing for ” breaches of professional secrecy “And” unlawful disclosure of personal information “. The defendants face between 1 and 10 years in prison and the company a fine of 3.75 million euros. More than forty civil parties – employees and unions – will be represented.

Hundreds of employees monitored

It all started in February 2012 with a first complaint, filed by the Force Ouvrière union. Hundreds of emails exchanged between Ikea’s risk management director, Jean-François Paris, and security companies are handed over to the police. Investigators discover there that the head of Ikea ordered information on employees, in particular on possible criminal records. This information was obtained through files reserved for the police, consulted by contacts within the police.

Hundreds of candidates for employment, employees and sometimes customers have been victims of these practices since the early 2000s. In email exchanges, Jean-François Paris is interested, for example, in an employee who “ drives a new convertible BMW “And would have” a lifestyle higher than his income “.

He asks for information on ” his criminal record, his lifestyle and a possible second bank account. »Another employee, returned« tanned »Of a sick leave, is suspected of having gone to Morocco. The private companies arranged to provide Ikea with a copy of his passport.

“I felt followed

Adel Amara was a union representative at the Ikea store in Franconville (Val-d’Oise). In 2010, he launched a strike, which was widely followed in the brand’s stores, to demand improvements in working conditions and an increase in wages. From there, everything changed for him. ” I felt followed. At work, management kicked me in every day. I felt that they wanted to make me crack ”, he recounts.

The investigation discovered an audit commissioned the same year by Ikea to a surveillance company for ” the establishment of a discreet and complete investigation on Adel Amara in order to define his means of existence and the trafficking or violence to which he may be engaged. “

→ THE FACTS. Spying on employees: revelations cascading to Ikea

My life was home-work, defends Adel Amara, I had nothing to hide. “When he discovers that two of his colleagues are in fact undercover security agents, it is the hammer blow:” A fake cashier reported everything that was said between employees to management. What we had eaten the day before, when we were going on vacation and inevitably sometimes union questions … In 2012, Adel Amara was fired for ” bullying “ towards his superiors.

“An institutionalized spy system”

The whole stake of this trial will be to demonstrate that this espionage system was institutionalized and that it was not isolated initiatives of certain directors., underlines lawyer Anne-Solène Bouvier, associate of Sofiane Hakiki who defends CGT employees of Ikea.

It is legally and materially false, supports Emmanuel Daoud, the lawyer of Ikea France. After the discovery of the facts, the company reacted immediately by creating a legal department, training employees in the protection of personal data and reviewing its recruitment procedures. “.

The company dismissed three former executives involved, including Jean-Louis Baillot. During the investigation, the latter affirmed ” not being aware of a spy system “. Jean-François Paris, assures on the contrary that the latter had been ” set up at the request of management », For an annual cost of 500,000 to 600,000 euros.

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