The exterior of a Papa John's pizza shop

John Schnatter has filed a lawsuit against Papa John’s International, accusing the board of “gross negligence” or staging a “coup”. John Schnatter, who founded the company in 1984, left the company after it was revealed he used racial slurs on a conference call, and is now saying that the company is refusing to provide him with documents he is required to receive as director.

“Mr. Schnatter’s attorneys are 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,” according to a statement from Schnatter’s legal team. It also accused the company of using Schnatter as a scapegoat to cover its own shortcomings.

“The company’s refusal to provide the requested documents to Mr. Schnatter demonstrates that the company, board and special committee, instead of standing behind its founder and chairman, did just the opposite by failing to engage with the news media to explain what actually occurred.”

In response, Papa John’s said it was “saddened and disappointed” and that the lawsuit was “needless and wasteful.”

“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 for our 120,000 corporate and franchise team members, and our franchisees, customers and stakeholders.”