Lane Johnson Files Unfair Labor Practice Charges Against NFL, NFLPA

Lane Johnson has been out of sight, out of mind since his 10-game PED suspension was upheld by an arbitrator on Oct. 11, but he apparently remains unhappy with how the process played out.

Johnson has filed charges of unfair labor practice against the NFL and his own union, the NFL players' association. 

Additionally, the Eagles' right tackle filed a complaint against the NFLPA with the Department of Labor under the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act.

Johnson's attorney, Steve Zashin, released the following statement to CSNPhilly.com:

"Lane Johnson filed charges against the NFL and the NFLPA with the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”).

"Lane also filed a complaint against the NFLPA with the Department of Labor (“DOL”) under the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act.

"During Lane’s appeal, it became apparent that the written words in the collectively bargained Performance-Enhancing Substances (“PES”) Policy, under which Lane was disciplined, are meaningless.

"The PES Policy, as written, guarantees rights, protections and due process to players in recognition of the enormous consequences of discipline.

"The NFL and the NFLPA have undermined these protections leaving the players -- including Lane -- with a hollowed-out process devoid of any protections.

"The actions of the NFL and NFLPA violate federal law.

"Lane trusts that he can get a fair hearing with the NLRB and the DOL."

A description of the Reporting and Disclosure Act can be found here on the Department of Labor's website. 

MMQB's Albert Breer first reported on Tuesday that Johnson was filing charges. 

During training camp news surfaced that Johnson had tested positive for a peptide found in an amino acid he bought online. This was Johnson's second positive PED test — he was suspended four games in 2014 — so the penalty was 10 games. If he fails another test, the ban would be two years. Johnson, who is not allowed inside the NovaCare Complex during his suspension, has served six games and is eligible to return to the Eagles for the final two, at home against the Giants and Cowboys.

The key issue is how Johnson unknowingly took a supplement that was not approved. He has said he believes he was suspended for taking a supplement that is allowed by the NFL but was tainted by the manufacturer to include peptides, which are banned and were not listed on the label.

Johnson in August rebuked the NFLPA for its lack of support.

“But I want that to be clear,” Johnson said, “that the NFLPA does not stand up for players. They don’t check the supplements. They give us an app, and then when you call them and ask them if you test positive for something they approve, it doesn’t matter. That’s all I got to say about that.”

The app is Aegis Shield, which the NFLPA says is for reference. 

"The NFLPA does not approve any supplements or substances," an NFLPA spokesperson said in a statement as a response to Johnson's comments. "Since 2012 and at the request of player leadership, we have had a partnership with Aegis that provides a mobile app as a resource for players to check listed ingredients on a supplement to see if it is on the banned list. We constantly remind all players that even if a supplement is "checked green" the supplement provider may not list certain ingredients therein that a player can test positive for.

"For several years, the NFLPA has provided a free service to every NFL player who wishes to have us test a supplement they send to us and this service was offered to Lane."

Johnson, however, said the NFLPA does not test supplements and claimed if he brought the supplement to the Eagles, the trainer would just read the ingredients; the team wouldn’t test the individual supplement because it would cost “thousands of dollars.”

Johnson appealed the suspension, to no avail. It was upheld in October, and Johnson's suspension began with the team's Week 6 game against Washington.

“It was eight hours of bickering back and forth and discussing league policy,” Johnson said of the appeal hearing. “It just felt good going in there and taking it head on. It was mainly just a conversation on the policy (the NFL has) in place. It didn’t have to do with any substances, mainly just changing the testing procedures.”

“We didn’t have anything to hide. I feel like we did all we could. There wasn’t a stone left unturned.

“Man, the thing was, just face it head on. We weren’t going to be intimidated by the NFL.”

CSNPhilly.com's Dave Zangaro contributed to this report. 

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