A new report claimed that women seeking jobs in the private office of Microsoft founder Bill Gates were quizzed about multiple sexual matters.
The report in The Wall Street Journal indicated that while several women said they were asked probing questions about their sexual histories, no men reported those questions being asked.
Based on information from job candidates and what the Journal called “people familiar with the hiring process,” candidates were asked about past drug use and other aspects of their private lives.
Some women reported being asked about extramarital affairs, their preference in pornography or if they toted about nude pictures of themselves on their phones, the report said.
One source said some women were asked if they ever “danced for dollars,” while another said she was asked if she ever had a sexually transmitted disease.
In 2021, a report in The New York Times said Gates “pursued” women who worked for either Microsoft or the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. That report said allegations of relationships with employees went back to 2000.
Gates also struck up a friendship with alleged sex trafficker and convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. Although he has claimed his meetings with Epstein were all about business, reports have said they were a factor in Melinda Gates initiating divorce proceedings.
A spokeswoman for Gates’ private office, known as Gates Ventures, said she has never heard that its contractors who screen workers asked those questions.
“We have never received information from any vendor or interviewee in our 15+ year history that inappropriate questions were asked during the screening process,” she said in a statement. “We can confirm, that after a comprehensive review of our records, no employment offer has ever been rescinded based on information of this nature.”
“This line of questioning would be unacceptable and a violation of Gates Ventures’ agreement with the contractor,” the representative, who was not named by the Journal, said.
Screenings are conducted by a firm called Concentric Advisors, which said it follows all law regarding employment screening.
A representative of Concentric said it never asked questions about sexual or drug histories, but that job candidates would have volunteered it.
The representative said the company does not provide employment recommendations, but only security screenings.
The security screening involves “assessing a candidate’s truthfulness and vulnerability to blackmail, which often starts with voluntary statements by the candidate with follow-up questions by company interviewers,” the representative said.
Job candidates said they were asked questions about their private lives and were told that any job offer they received required passing the security screening.
A consent form the Journal saw gave permission for the results of the assessment from Concentric to be shared with Gates Ventures and said it was used to “assess suitability for employment.”
Carol Miaskoff, legal counsel of the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, said questions about health or psychiatric history are “just flat out prohibited by the federal Americans With Disabilities Act.”
“There’s not a black letter law prohibition on asking questions related to sex,” Miaskoff said, adding, “getting the information and taking some adverse action with that information” could bring a legal challenge.
Asking about sexual histories or preferences is “deeply offensive, and it has nothing I can conceive of whether a person can do a job,” said Lindsay Halm, a Seattle-based employment lawyer.