REDMOND, Wash. — Microsoft says that executives in 2008 warned Bill Gates to stop sending flirtatious emails to a female employee but dropped the matter after he told them he would stop.
The Wall Street Journal was first to report that Brad Smith, then Microsoft’s general counsel and now its president and vice chair, and another executive met with Gates after the company discovered inappropriate emails to a midlevel employee.
The newspaper reported that Gates didn’t deny the exchanges, and members of the Microsoft board who were briefed on them declined to take further action.
Gates' private office is calling the claims false.
Gates' conduct with employees who work for him at Microsoft and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has come into question in the last year.
Earlier this year, Microsoft Corp. said it hired a law firm in late 2019 to conduct an investigation after a Microsoft engineer alleged in a letter that she had a sexual relationship with Gates over several years.
At the time, a spokesperson for Gates said it was "an affair almost 20 years ago which ended amicably."
Gates resigned from the Microsoft Corp. board in 2020 before the board's investigation into his conduct was finished. However, Gates claimed he was stepping down to focus on philanthropy and not because of the investigation.
The New York Times also reported that Gates had developed "a reputation for questionable conduct in work-related settings."
The Times reported that on at least a few occasions, Gates made overtures to women who worked for him at Microsoft and the foundation.
In May of this year, Gates announced he and his wife Melinda of 27 years were divorcing, but would keep working together at their foundation.