Dåligt uppförande! In the biggest scandal to rock IKEA since it served horse meatballs, the top executives at the furniture store's French unit are being investigated for spying on potential and current employees and their own customers.
The investigation began back in April 2012, the Wall Street Journal reported, but has heated up in past few weeks when French authorities questioned IKEA France's CEO Stefan Vanoverbeke, former CEO Jean-Louis Baillo and CFO Dariusz Rychert.
France as a country isn't a fan of being spied on (though is, apparently, totally cool with it when it's the one doing the spying). The accusations against IKEA France, laid out in two New York Times articles (here and here) are that its human resources department illegally obtained police files on employees and customers and hired private detectives to spy on them. The detectives were given sensitive information on their targets, including social security and bank account numbers.
A IKEA longtime employee told NYT that she was fired from her job in 2009 when she was on medical leave. IKEA accused her of faking the severity of her illness, and emails between the French unit's head of risk management (whose name is Jean-François Paris, because of course it is), and a private detective showed that the detective had managed to obtain scanned photos of the employee's passport showing that she had traveled between France and Morocco, which Paris took as proof that she wasn't all that sick. The employee sued IKEA France for wrongful termination and won.
And then there's the Denizes, who furnished their new French vacation home with $13,740 worth of IKEA. That is a lot of IKEA. So many flat packs! The Denizes were expecting the furniture to be delivered by mid-December 2006, in time for friends to come for the holidays (and possibly also help them assemble a four bedroom home's worth of IKEA furniture). But the furniture didn't arrive until February, so the Denizes spent eight weeks living in a bed and breakfast, calling IKEA over and over again to find out where their furniture was and not getting much by way of answers.
The couple asked IKEA to cover their hotel costs, and IKEA eventually offered them part of what they were asking for. (NYT says the Denizes never threatened legal action against the company over the matter; other reports say they did.) Before that, it turns out, Jean-François Paris paid a private detective to check up on them, giving him their address and mobile phone number. Creepy!
Four IKEA employees, including Jean-François Paris, were fired when the spying became public last year. Several police officers are under investigation for possibly providing information to IKEA, the BBC reported. Two IKEA employee unions have filed complaints against the company, according to France 24.
So far, it doesn't appear that the spying was part of some company-wide mandate or happened in any stores outside of France.
IKEA France put a new code of conduct in place last year in response to the original revelations. Presumably, it says "don't spy on people" or "ne pas espionner sur les personnes." Or maybe it's laid out like those IKEA instruction cartoons that transcend the written word?
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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