Microsoft executives warned Bill Gates to stop sending flirtatious emails to an employee in 2008, the company confirmed.
The Wall Street Journal first reported that two senior executives met with the billionaire after the tech giant discovered inappropriate messages were sent to a mid-level staff member.
According to the newspaper, Gates did not deny these exchanges, but said they were a bad idea in hindsight and would not happen again.
The case was then closed and no further action was taken as there had been no physical interaction between Gates and the employee in question.
Microsoft confirmed the newspaper’s report to the Associated Press news agency.
In a statement, Gates’ private office said, “These allegations are false, recycled rumors from sources with no direct knowledge, and some in some cases have significant conflicts of interest.”
The 2008 incident came more than 10 years before similar allegations led Microsoft to hire a law firm to investigate a letter from an employee who said she had sex with Gates who had lasted for several years.
The investigation was not publicly known until Bill and Melinda Gates announced their decision to end their 27-year marriage in May.
Gates, who is estimated to be worth $ 133 billion (£ 96 billion), was Microsoft’s chief executive until 2000. He has stepped back from a day-to-day role with the company in 2008 and stepped down as president in 2014.
It comes as a Microsoft investor calls on its shareholders to support a proposal that would force the company to investigate its workplace harassment policies and release a report on the findings.
Arjuna Capital said: “Reports of Bill Gates’ inappropriate relationships and sexual advances towards Microsoft employees have only exacerbated concerns, calling into question the culture established by senior leaders and the role of the board of directors. administration to hold the culprits accountable. “
Microsoft argues that this proposal is unnecessary because the company has already adopted plans to publicly report on how it implements policies on sexual harassment and gender discrimination.