Papa John's International's board put further distance between the pizza chain and its outspoken founder John Schnatter for using a racial slur, agreeing to review all ties to him, evict him from the headquarters, and remove him from all marketing materials.
The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that founder John Schnatter wrote in a letter to the board of Papa John's that the directors "asked me to step down as chairman without apparently doing any investigation".
Schnatter resigned last week as chairman of Papa John's after Forbes said that he used the n-word and spoke in graphic terms about lynchings during a conference call in May. Papa John's is now in the process of removing Schnatter from its advertisements and marketing material. He remains Papa John's largest shareholder with about 30 percent of the company's stock.
Schnatter said the discussion only started when he objected to the agency's suggestion of hiring rapper Kanye West as brand spokesman because West "uses the "N" word in his lyrics".
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Schnatter sent the memo over the weekend, criticizing the board for allegedly forcing him to step down before investigating the recent complaint against him.
And he said senior leadership would visit key locations to hold "listening sessions" with employees to enable them to voice concerns.
The email urged staffers to not respond to inquiries from journalists about Papa John's and Laundry Service, and to refer those contacts to its public relations representative.
During the May call, Schnatter tried to downplay controversial remarks he made last November about how the NFL was handling players protesting during the National Anthem.
Since the controversy erupted, the company's former CEO claimed he was somehow pressured into using racist language, and conservatives flocked to defend Schnatter by buying mediocre pizza and using the hashtag #PapaJohnDidNothingWrong. "But they actually wanted to get into that vocabulary, and I said absolutely not".