Forbes just published a deep investigation into John Schnatter’s Papa John’s Pizza empire, and it reaches some expected conclusions. Based on conversations with 37 current and former Papa John’s employees, Forbes paints a picture of a mismanaged business being led by an increasingly petty and vindictive Schnatter, who cultivated and sustained a frat-house culture at the company by installing his buddies in top positions. There are also descriptions of Schnatter allegedly behaving inappropriately towards women in the sketchy and gross ways popular among CEO weirdos.
Forbes’s piece mentions multiple confidential settlements between Schnatter and women who accused him of inappropriate behavior. The first was related to a 1999 incident in which a woman named Lesli Workman accused Schnatter of groping her at a party. Additional alleged incidents occurred more recently:
Just after reclaiming CEO duties, Schnatter attended the NCAA Final Four in Detroit. During the trip there was an incident with a 24-year-old female Papa John’s marketing employee that resulted in a second confidential settlement and the employee’s swift departure. Three sources tell Forbes they know of additional settlements between Schnatter and women involving inappropriate conduct, though details could not be confirmed by publication time. (Schnatter disputes this.)
A female employee says that Schnatter asked about her bra size and whether she’d slept with her previous boss, and that he never let her pass in a hall without giving her a hug. (He denies this.) A male executive recalls going out to dinner with his wife and bumping into Schnatter at the bar. Schnatter allegedly told the executive that he “had a cute wife, if she’d lose some weight.” Schnatter didn’t remember the incident when confronted by the executive later, and Schnatter now says it didn’t happen.
You should read the entire story, which is filled with all sorts of less serious but equally predictable details about Schnatter’s life, including a description of his former office, which was adorned with black marble and featured a fresco of his own face. This man becomes more like a minor villain in a Coen brothers movie every day.