Modern Family cast in contract row
Five Modern Family stars are suing to void their contracts to work on the hit comedy, claiming they are are illegal under California law.
The suit filed by series stars Sofia Vergara, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet, Julie Bowen and Ty Burrell argues that their contracts with 20th Century Fox Television violate a California law prohibiting personal service contracts from extending for more than seven years.
The lawsuit asks a judge to rule the contracts are illegal and should be voided because they prohibit the actors from other work. The lawsuit states the contracts bind the actors to work on the series from February 2009 and June 30 2016.
"Modern Family has been a breakout critical and financial success," the lawsuit states. "That success, however, has been built upon a collection of illegal contracts."
A spokeswoman for 20th Century Fox said the studio had no immediate comment on the case.
The lawsuit also states contracts cap the raises the actors receive for each additional season of the show - Sofia's pay raise per season is capped at five percent, while the rest of her co-stars named in the suit are allowed to receive a maximum pay increase of four percent per year. Jesse, Eric, Julie and Ty are also required to perform numerous unpaid publicity obligations.
The show recently concluded its third season. It has picked up Emmy Awards for outstanding Comedy Series the past two years and several of the stars, including Ty, Julie and Eric have won individual Emmys for their work on the show.
The show was recently nominated for 14 Emmy Awards, the most of any sitcom.