The French subsidiary of Swedish household retailer IKEA has been fined 1 million euros (1.2 million dollars) by a court for illicitly gathering personal information on employees and customers.
The case unfolded after a 2012 expose by the publication Canard enchaine, which reported that a private firm used by IKEA's security division had, since 2003, been gathering personal information about employees and job applicants, including on banking activity and potential criminal charges.
Similar information was also gathered from customers in cases in which the company entered into legal proceedings with the individuals.
That prompted FO, a labour union, to file a lawsuit over the improper use of personal data.
IKEA headquarters in Sweden distanced itself from the practices, while the French affiliate responded with an internal review and reforms.
The company used improper and even deceitful practices to gather the data, the verdict states. Prosecutors had initially sought a stiffer punishment.
IKEA in France said it took note of the decision and was looking towards the future.
Former manager sentenced
It said the practices in question had not been in line with the company's values or ethical standards and had been condemned roundly in the past. The company added that it had apologized and sought to implement reforms.
A former manager was also sentenced to two years of probation and a 50,000-euro fine as part of the case. His lawyer told the AFP news agency that they are considering appealing.
Another individual found guilty received 18 months probation and was ordered to pay a fine of 10,000 euros.