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.

Frank Shaw, Microsoft spokesperson, said to the Journal that Gates was warned by company executives in 2008 shortly before Gates became 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.”

More than a decade ago, the warning in 2008 was similar to other alleged behaviors. This led to tech giant Google to hire a law company to look into a 2018 letter sent by an engineer alleging that she had had several years of sex with Gates. 

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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. In August, the divorce was completed. 

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


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