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Can The Modern Family Cast Void Their Employment Contracts?

Five members of the cast of Modern Family recently filed a lawsuit against 20th Century Fox. Their demand? Void their existing employment contracts and rewrite new ones with higher salaries for each of the cast members.

Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Eric Stonestreet, Sofia Vergara and Jesse Tyler Ferguson are named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit. They seek to enforce a California employee protection law that doesn't allow contracts for personal services to have terms longer than seven years (presumably California Labor Code ยง2855). Voiding the contracts would allow them to renegotiate key terms with Fox, including pay per episode as well as each actor's ability to pursue work outside of Modern Family.

The lawsuit is just the next piece of the puzzle in salary negotiations and disputes between Modern Family and Fox. Fox reportedly offered to bump up each cast member's per episode pay annually through season 9, but the cast is rumored to be demanding much more than Fox is offering.

Currently, the cast members make somewhere in the neighborhood of $60,000 per episode. They are collectively seeking an increase of $200,000 per actor per episode according to one insider. Ed O'Neill makes slightly more per episode but is joining the lawsuit seeking additional pay as well, reportedly in solidarity with his co-cast members.

The contract dispute is flowing over into production of the hit tv series. The first table read for Season 4 of Modern Family was cancelled today after the main cast members had promised a no-show.

Modern Family was recently nominated for its third Emmy for Best Comedy.

Source: TMZ, "'Modern Family' Cast "WE WANT OUT"," July 24, 2012

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