Microsoft says it warned Bill Gates about flirting in the workplace in 2008

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REDMOND, Wash. (AP) – In 2008, Microsoft executives warned Bill Gates to stop sending flirtatious emails to an employee, but dropped the case after telling them he would quit, the company revealed on Monday .

The Wall Street Journal was the first to report that Brad Smith, then general counsel for Microsoft and now president and vice president, and another executive met with Gates after the company discovered inappropriate emails to a level employee. intermediate.

The newspaper reported that Gates did not deny the exchanges, and Microsoft board members who were informed declined to take further action because there was no physical interaction between Gates and the employee.

Microsoft declined to comment on Monday except to confirm the Journal report. Smith did not return a request for comment made through the company.

Gates’ private office said in a written statement that “these claims are false, recycled rumors from sources that have no direct knowledge and in some cases have significant conflicts of interest.” He declined to comment further.

The warning reported in 2008 came more than a decade before alleged similar behavior led the tech giant to hire a law firm in 2019 to investigate a letter from an engineer who said that she had had sex with Gates for several years.

The investigation preceded Gates’ departure from Microsoft’s board of directors last year, but was not revealed publicly until after Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates announced in May that they had decided to end the their 27-year marriage. The divorce was granted in August. The former couple still jointly run the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Gates was CEO of Microsoft until 2000 and since then he has gradually reduced his involvement in the company he started with Paul Allen in 1975. He left his daily role at Microsoft in 2008 and served as chairman of board of directors until 2014..

Microsoft spokesman Frank Shaw told the Journal that the 2008 warning from company executives came shortly before Gates retired as a full-time employee. Shaw told the newspaper that Gates had suggested meeting the employee outside of work in flirtatious and inappropriate but “not overtly sexual” emails.

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