A French court ordered home furnishings giant Ikea to pay more than 1 million euros (USD 1.2 million) in fines and damages Tuesday over a campaign to spy on union representatives, employees and some unhappy customers in France.
Two former Ikea France executives were convicted and fined over the scheme and given suspended prison sentences. Among the other 13 defendants in the high-profile trial, some were acquitted and others given suspended sentences.
Abel Amara, a former Ikea employee who helped expose the wrongdoing, called the ruling "a big step in defense of the citizen....It makes me glad that there is justice in France."
The panel of judges at the Versailles court found that Ikea's French subsidiary used espionage to sift out trouble-makers in the ranks and profile squabbling customers between 2009 and 2012.
The executive who was in charge of risk management at the time of the spying, Jean-François Paris, acknowledged to French judges that 530,000 to 630,000 euros a year were earmarked for such investigations.
Paris - the only official to have admitted to the alleged illegal sleuthing - said his department was responsible for handling the operation on orders from former Ikea France CEO Jean-Louis Baillot.
Trade unions alleged that Ikea France paid to gain access to police files that had information about targeted individuals, particularly union activists and customers who were in disputes with Ikea.
The company also faces potential damages from separate civil lawsuits filed by unions and 74 employees.
The news has caused a lot of uproar on Twitter. Since, Ikea cancelled its advertisements with GB news quoting that that they don't agree with the media company's right-leaning and anti-woke values, people are also calling Ikea a hypocrite.
Here's how people are reacting to the news. Have a look.
With inputs from AP.