Papa John’s founder John Schnatter filed a lawsuit on Thursday against the restaurant he started, claiming that he was falsely accused of using the “N-word” during a conference call and that the company failed to defend him amid the controversies that led to his separate resignations as CEO, then as chairman. He also alleged that the pizza chain’s board treated him in a “heavy-handed” way and tried to terminate an agreement that allowed him to use the restaurant’s headquarters to sublease office space.
Soon after admitting that he indeed said the N-word two months ago when explaining how Kentucky Fried Chicken founder Col. Harlan Sanders allegedly used the offending term yet never got called out for it, Schnatter apologized for his comments and stepped down as chairman of Papa John’s on July 11, as reported by Forbes. However, a representative for the embattled restaurant founder is now alleging that the publication falsely accused Schnatter of using racially charged language.
In a statement to Forbes, Schnatter’s lawyer, Patricia Glaser, stressed that her client was merely quoting the N-word, and not actually “using” it in the truest sense.
“There is a world of difference between using the word as a slur – demeaning someone by calling them that word – and quoting that word.”
A report from CNBC offered more details on “Papa John” Schnatter’s lawsuit, noting that he accused the board of planning a “coup” against him and acting without the necessary information required to back its actions up. He alleged that Papa John’s refused to correct stories which he felt were misreported, including those relating to his May conference call and remarks he made in November 2017, where he blamed the NFL’s perceived inability to deal with players kneeling during the national anthem for the decline in his restaurant’s pizza sales. According to Schnatter, the board chose not to back him up amid those comments, forcing him instead to resign as Papa John’s CEO.
'Papa John' Schnatter Sues Papa John's for Shaming Him Over N-Word Incident https://t.co/TDjuHGDi4E
— TMZ (@TMZ) July 26, 2018
As the Inquisitr previously reported, Schnatter and his lawyer sent letters to the board last week, where they claimed that he didn’t resign voluntarily as chairman and that the board “had no authority” to remove him from his post.
Papa John’s issued its own statement on Schnatter’s recent actions, where spokesman Peter Collins described the lawsuit as a frivolous way to divert attention and absolve him of accountability for his past comments.
“We are saddened and disappointed that John Schnatter has filed a needless and wasteful lawsuit in an attempt to distract from his own words and actions. We are providing Mr. Schnatter all of the materials he is entitled to as a director. We will not let his numerous misstatements in the complaint and elsewhere distract us from the important work we are doing to move the business forward,” read the statement, which was sent to Forbes, CNBC, and other media outlets covering the story.