Bret Glazer, from Barfoot & Thompson, wrote that refugees and migrants were
Bret Glazer, from Barfoot & Thompson, wrote that refugees and migrants were "making it harder for Kiwis to thrive". NZH

Online racism is catching up with people at work

AN Auckland real estate agent has apologised and donated to the Red Cross refugee resettlement fund after an explosive online rant blaming migrants for "ruining what New Zealand is".

Bret Glazer, from Barfoot & Thompson, wrote that refugees and migrants were "making it harder for Kiwis to thrive".

Most people migrated to New Zealand because "they've already f***** their own country", he said.

Glazer questioned whether "criminals or ex-warmongers" would gain refuge in New Zealand and, in a Facebook exchange, told a migrant New Zealander her opinion was of no value to him.

The posts were made on Glazer's Facebook account but one respondent linked his professional Barfoot & Thompson profile to the fiery online debate. Glazer responded: "Thanks for the plug."

On Wednesday Glazer told the Herald on Sunday his comments had been taken out of context and were not meant to be taken seriously. He would not comment further.

But Barfoot & Thompson managing director Peter Thompson investigated and later said said it was "totally unacceptable" for Glazer's personal views aired on social media to be linked to his professional role.

"He accepts this, has apologised for his comments and has made a donation to the NZ Red Cross Refugee Resettlement in NZ Fund," Thompson said. "Barfoot & Thompson's culture is based around family values. We celebrate diversity and difference and are proud of the fact that, within our team, our people are drawn from 67 countries, and between them speak 58 languages."

During the Facebook exchange, Glazer told a female Portuguese-born immigrant to New Zealand: "If you're not from NZ then as far as I'm concerned (hard but fair) your opinion is of no value to me."

In the exchange with Angela Murphy, he added: "This is my country not yours. I'm protecting it for what is and not for what you want to twist it into to suit your misguided agendas."

The comments have since been removed.

Murphy told the Herald on Sunday she was shocked at the nature of the exchange, describing Glazer's comments as "bigotry and prejudice".

Kensington Swan employment lawyer Anthony Drake said the connection between Glazer and his professional profile created an "unquestionable link" between the agent and his employer. As a consequence, an employee could face disciplinary action.

Blair Scotland, a partner at Dundas Street Employment Lawyers, said social media users needed to make sure they would be comfortable with the possibility of their comments being seen by the world.

"If you want to make these outrageous comments on the internet, if you are not prepared to put it on a billboard for all to see, then don't put it on Facebook because the consequences can be really damning."

Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy backed the stance taken by Barfoot & Thompson and by Facebook posters who took aim at Glazer's comments.

"We are grateful to Kiwis who call out prejudice when they hear it. We need to challenge one another," she said.