Papa John’s Pizza Chain Taken To Court By Its Ousted Founder

The founder and the former chairman of the pizza chain Papa John’s wants access to documents relating to his exit form the company and has moved court for this purpose.

Earlier this month, founder of the firm John Schnatter had to resign from the company following his use of the N-word during a conference call.

Because of the “unexplained and heavy-handed way” that he had been treated by Papa John’s, therefore they wanted to see the documents, said lawyers for Schnatter.

It was “saddened and disappointed” by the lawsuit, Papa John’s said.

The suit was filed by Schnatter in Delaware Chancery Court.

His attorneys said they were “seeking to inspect Company documents because of the unexplained and heavy-handed way in which the Company has treated him since the publication of a story that falsely accused him of using a racial slur”.

“Rather than address the real issues like the health of the business, the company is hiding documents that, we believe, will disclose the actual facts as to what is occurring here, including using Mr Schnatter as a scapegoat to cover up their own shortcomings and failures,” they added.

The company was “saddened and disappointed” that Mr Schnatter had filed a “needless and wasteful lawsuit in an attempt to distract from his own words and actions”, Papa John’s said in a statement.

“We are providing Mr Schnatter all of the materials he is entitled to as a director.

“We will not let his numerous mis-statements in the complaint and elsewhere distract us from the important work we are doing to move the business forward for our 120,000 corporate and franchise team members, and our franchisees, customers and stakeholders,” the company said.

The image of Schnatter would be removed from the branding of the company following his resignation, the company said.

With over 4,900 restaurants worldwide, Papa John’s is the third-largest pizza chain in the world.

The incident that caused the exit of Schnatter from Papa John’s had taken place in May this year during a media training conference call between a marketing agency called Laundry Service and the company.

According to a report in Forbes, the purpose of the call was to make use of a role-playing exercise which was intended to provide experience in dealing with difficult issues for Schnatter.

The Forbes reported that Schnatter said criticism had never been faced by Colonel Sanders, the founder of KFC, for using the N-word, while the two parties were holding a discussion on the manner in which he would keep himself away from racist groups.

There have also been controversies surrounding Schnatter on earlier occasions.  Following his criticism of the NFL in relation to the US national anthem protests last year, he had to resign as the chief executive of the company.

(Adapted from BBC.com)

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