The company responded saying that Schnatter is making up the story to clear his name and vowed to fight against these accusations.
Former Papa John’s chairman and company namesake John Schnatter has accused Steve Ritchie, the man who replaced him as CEO, of orchestrating a campaign to label him a racist, according to a report Friday.
In a lawsuit filed in Delaware court, Schnatter claims that Ritchie “admitted privately that he launched a false and defamatory campaign” to portray him as racist “for the sad and simple reason that Mr. Ritchie learned that he was going to lose his job,” according to court documents unsealed Thursday. Ritchie has served as CEO since Schnatter stepped down from the role last January.
Schnatter claims Papa John’s current leadership has caused irreparable harm to the company’s finances and asks the court to reverse a “poison pill” measure enacted by the board that effectively bars Schnatter, the largest shareholder, from acquiring a controlling stake. He also requests that the court bars Ritchie from further public comment on Schnatter and blocks a special committee investigation into company culture due to conflicts of interest.
The lawsuit does not specifically link Schnatter’s accusation to the May incident in which he used a racial slur during a media training session with executives from the marketing firm Laundry Service. Schnatter apologized for the remark and stepped down as chairman, but later claimed it was taken out of context and accused Laundry Service of attempting to extort him for $6 million to keep the incident private.