Nation & World

Papa John's founder sues over ouster

John Schnatter seeks internal documents

Reuters

John Schnatter, founder of Papa John’s, arrives at the 2011 American Music Awards in Los Angeles.
Reuters John Schnatter, founder of Papa John’s, arrives at the 2011 American Music Awards in Los Angeles.
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Papa John’s International founder John Schnatter sued the pizza chain demanding internal files related to directors’ handling of his ouster for allegedly using a racial slur during a media-training session.

A special committee of independent directors ordered the termination of a so-called founder’s agreement that designated Schnatter as the brand’s face and voice, and requested he cease media appearances on behalf of the company.

Board members also ordered his eviction from the company’s headquarters and have refused to turn over information about its decision-making process, according to the Delaware Chancery Court lawsuit.

“Mr. Schnatter sought to inspect documents because of the unexplained and heavy-handed way in which the company has treated him” after news surfaced of his use of a racial epithet, the founder’s lawyers said in the suit, filed Thursday.

Schnatter faced a backlash after a Forbes report in July described the disputed session with media agency Laundry Service. While Schnatter has acknowledged using the slur, he said that it was in the context of a training exercise and that he isn’t a racist.

Following the report, Schnatter resigned as chairman of Papa John’s but later said he regretted the decision.

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