papa john's

Papa John’s founder resigns over his racist behaviour

Papa John’s founder resigns over his racist behaviour

John Schnatter resigns after apologising for using the N-word during a conference call.


It is reported Schnatter, 56, used the N-word during a media training exercise. The aim of the role-playing activity was to reduce the risk of adverse publicity. Schnatter asked how he would distance himself from racist groups. It was reported that he said that “Colonel Sanders called blacks n-word” and complained the KFC founder never received any public backlash.


John Schnatter admitted to using the “inappropriate and hurtful” language. The founder of the American restaurant franchise company released a statement and said: “Regardless of the context, I apologise”.


Papa John’s, which franchises over 4,700 restaurants amongst 37 other countries, announced Schnatter’s founder agreement had been terminated. A Papa John’s spokesperson confirmed images of Schnatter will be removed from all of the chain’s branding.


Chief Executive at Papa John’s, Steve Ritchie, stated: “We will demonstrate that a diverse and inclusive culture exists at Papa John’s through our deeds and actions”.


“Racism and any intensive language, no matter what the context simply cannot – and will not be tolerated at any level of the company”.


Race discrimination and race hate

According to Acas, race hate incidents are acts of violence or hostility against people because of their race and are illegal in criminal law.


In this case, it’s important to highlight that imitating or referencing other peoples quotes can still be classed as race discrimination or race hate. Despite Schnatter claiming to have repeated a racist comment made by Colonel Sanders, it is still deemed as unlawful race discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.


Employers are responsible for carrying out thorough investigations whenever they are made aware of race discrimination and race hate issues. The employer must take appropriate disciplinary measures to protect employees. This will help to provide reassurance to the employee that the correct steps are being taken to stop the race discrimination and race hate from continuing in the workplace.


Employers also have a legal duty to treat all employees fairly and they should intervene if they witness anyone acting or expressing their racist views. It’s important employers create a working environment where employees feel confident to raise their concerns with their employer and must deal with the issue quickly and fairly.


Employee’s expect to be treated fairly in the workplace, therefore it’s also important they treat others the same way. Everyone within the workplace should treat each other with dignity and respect.


Any employee who witnesses someone in the workplace acting or expressing their racist views should intervene Ultimately, all employees should feel they can trust their employer and discuss any concerns they may have at any time.


Another key consideration for employers is to outline what is and isn’t classed as racism in the workplace. A clear anti-discrimination policy should be created that specifically addresses acts of racism. The consequences for racist behaviour should also be included to make everyone within the business aware of the different acts of racism.


If you need any support or guidance regarding racism in the workplace, please contact a member of the HPC team:


T: 0844 800 5932


Twitter: @HPC_HRservices


Sign up to our newsletter to receive the latest news and updates

Sign up now