Papa John's Board Rips Into Papa John in New Open Letter

The headquarters of Papa John’s International is located Blankenbaker Parkway | Courtesy of WLKY

The headquarters of Papa John’s International is located Blankenbaker Parkway | Courtesy of WLKY

The only way Papa John's could remove Schnatter from the board is to hold a special shareholder vote, or propose a slate without him at its annual meeting next year.

"John Schnatter is harming the Company, not helping it, as evidenced by the negative impact his comments and actions have had on our business and that of our franchisees", the committee's letter said.

During a conference call, Schnatter was describing some of the racial slurs which used to be said openly in the past.

"The Board specifically directed John Schnatter not to talk about the NFL controversy related to the National Anthem on the 2017 third quarter earnings call", the committee said in its statement.

The company's founder and largest shareholder, John Schnatter, has filed a lawsuit against Papa John's International, Inc.in DE on Thursday, claiming the company's leadership is causing "irreparable harm" to the business, his attorney told ABC News. 'In direct defiance of these instructions, John Schnatter made unscripted comments about the National Football League controversy'.

The committee also said Schnatter ignored the board's directions when he criticized the National Football League over national anthem protests by players a year ago. In the aftermath of that, share prices fell and Schnatter eventually stepped down as CEO.

It also called "not true" Schnatter's assertion that the board agreed that Ritchie should step down as CEO. He is also suing to gain access to the company's books and records in a complaint where he accuses the company of treating him in an "unexplained and heavy-handed way".

And he's not backing away.

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At the time, Papa John's was the official pizza of the NFL.

Rather, it says, the estrangement between Schnatter and Ritchie began when the company made a decision to implement a marketing plan that did not feature the founder.

"This June, I told the Board that Steve needed to go", he wrote.

The committee also denied accusations by Schnatter that the board had asked him to be executive chairman.

"John Schnatter is promoting his self-interest at the expense of all others in an attempt to regain control", the letter reads.

Fahn said the lawsuit is now under seal and that he could not elaborate on what exactly Schnatter claims the board is doing that has resulted in harm to the company, though in letters posted on the website savepapajohns.com, which is run by Schnatter, the deposed CEO discusses what he alleges are bad financial decisions, insufficient management skills, a toxic senior management culture and misconduct by the company's leadership.

The company is trying to move forward by a mandating bias training for all employees, promising to increase diversity among staff and commissioning an investigation into its diversity and inclusion practices.

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