Microsoft warned Bill Gates over 'inappropriate' emails to female staffer in 2008, report says

·1 min read

Microsoft executives warned Bill Gates to stop sending flirtatious emails to a female employee in 2008 but dropped the matter after he told them he would stop, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

According to the Journal, Brad Smith, then Microsoft’s general counsel and now its president and vice chair, and Lisa Brummel, former chief people officer, warned Gates that "the behavior was inappropriate and needed to stop." Gates, the Journal adds, didn't deny the exchanges and later told the executives that "it wasn’t a good idea" and said that he would stop.

The newspaper also reported members of the Microsoft board who were briefed on them declined to take further action because there wasn’t any physical interaction between Gates and the employee.

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

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

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The report comes after Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates' announcement earlier this year that they were ending their marriage of 27 years. The divorce was finalized in August.

The former couple still jointly runs the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Michelle Shen is a Money & Tech Digital Reporter for USA TODAY. Follow her on Twitter @michelle_shen10.

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Bill Gates warned to stop sending emails to female Microsoft staffer

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