The multinational clothing company H&M was fined for 35,3 millions euros from the Hamburg Ombudsman. The brand is accused of spying on several hundred employees at a customer service center in Nuremberg, Germany.
The story dates back to 2014, but only today has the legal process to defend the rights of workers been concluded.
Maxi fine for H&M: workers’ privacy violated
Johannes Caspar, Hamburg’s commissioner for privacy protection and freedom of information, said H&M would collect “extensive records of the circumstances of the private life” of employees. Between data sensitive filed by the Swedish company, there are also medical diagnoses, family problems and the religious affiliation of the hundreds of workers involved.
The information, collected by monitoring private conversations and group discussions, would be digitally recorded in a system, available to approximately 50 manager clothing company.
H&M, employee privacy violated: the press release
Hennes & Mauritz Ab, the widely held company that owns the brand, has distanced himself from the delicate affair that took place in Nuremberg. In a statement, he said that “the incident revealed practices for the processing of personal data of employees that are not in line with the regulations and instructions of H & M”.
The leaders of the Swedish company are sorry with offended employees, taking full responsibility for the violation of their privacy and arranging a compensation adequate. In the future, H&M management points out, the company will take new measures to prevent similar abuses from happening again.
H&M in crisis due to Covid: 250 stores will be closed
News of H&M’s 35.3 million euro fine comes within hours of the company’s announcement to close 5% of stores next year. Of the 5,000 total operating today, 250 shops single-brand stores will permanently lower the shutter in 2021. H&M has already closed 50 stores during 2020, due to lockdown and limitations in the hours set by the governments of the countries affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The announcement of the new closures came with the final report for the June-August quarter, which ended with a net profit of 1.8 billion Swedish kronor, about 174 million euros. While above expectations, it is about less than half of the 3.8 billion crowns invoiced in the same period last year.
H&M has made it known that the sales have been negatively affected from the health emergency, explaining that at the beginning of the quarter 900 shops remained closed. The clothing giant has seen an increase in online sales 36% since the beginning of the infection. This represents a quarter of the group’s turnover.