Microsoft executives warned Bill Gates in 2008 about inappropriate emails he had sent to a female employee, a Microsoft spokesman said Monday.
The warning involved messages in which Gates, who at the time was a full-time employee and the company’s chair, asked an employee out on a date. Senior Microsoft executives learned of the emails in 2008, according to Frank Shaw, a Microsoft spokesperson.
“These emails proposed meeting outside of work and off campus,” Shaw said. “While flirtatious, they were not overtly sexual but were deemed to be inappropriate.”
After they discovered the messages, executives warned Gates that his behavior was inappropriate and notified a small group of board members about the incident, Shaw said. Gates told the board members that he agreed that what he had done was inappropriate, and the board took no further action.
Gates left the company shortly thereafter in a long-planned departure, though he remained a member of its board until last year. The executives’ warnings to Gates were reported earlier by The Wall Street Journal.
Bridgitt Arnold, a spokesperson for Gates, told the Journal, “These claims are false, recycled rumors from sources who have no direct knowledge, and in some cases have significant conflicts of interest.” She had no additional comment when reached by The New York Times.
In 2019, after the Times reported on Gates’s long-running relationship with sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, Microsoft’s board began looking into a report that Gates had, years earlier, had a sexual relationship with a subordinate at Microsoft.
Gates and his wife, Melinda French Gates, announced earlier this year that they were ending their 27-year marriage.
The Times reported in May that Gates had developed a reputation for questionable conduct in work-related settings.