Russell Okung's lawsuit against NFLPA dismissed by NLRB, appeal reportedly likely

Jack Baer
·2 min read

The National Labor Relations Board dismissed a lawsuit filed by Carolina Panthers offensive tackle Russell Okung against the NFL Players Association over the union’s recently ratified collective bargaining agreement, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.

Okung is reportedly likely to appeal the decision and must do it by May 20.

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In his lawsuit, Okung accused the NFLPA of bad faith negotiations and a disregard for union rules over the CBA, which was narrowly approved by a vote in March.

Russell Okung’s NFLPA lawsuit falls short

Okung’s lawsuit contended that the union’s leadership ignored two votes against the proposed CBA by its executive committee, of which Okung is a member. He claims the union then ignored a 17-14 vote by the 32 team representatives (with one abstaining) in which the CBA fell short by two votes of the required two-thirds majority.

Still, the CBA was reportedly sent out for a vote by all players, who approved it by a 1,019-959 margin.

Okung also accused union leadership of attempting to muzzle him, alleging he was improperly investigated and threatened with punishment, according to The Washington Post’s Mark Maske. NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and another union attorney were named in the lawsuit.

Former Panthers safety Eric Reid, currently a free agent, has also challenged the validity of the CBA, claiming the finalized version wasn’t the same document players approved. The NFLPA has denied those claims.

While the NLRB dismissed Okung’s lawsuit, it didn’t necessarily say his complaints were without merit. According to The Athletic’s Daniel Wallach, the NLRB ruled against the complaint as a jurisdictional issue, possibly opening the door for a complaint in federal court.

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While Okung was dealt a significant blow Thursday, it does not appear this matter is over yet.

JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 08: Los Angeles Chargers Offensive Tackle Russell Okung (76) during the game between the Los Angeles Chargers and the Jacksonville Jaguars on December 8, 2019 at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Fl. (Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Russell Okung contends the NFLPA repeatedly ignored its players' votes to push through the CBA. (Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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