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Actors from “Modern Family” Sue 20th Century Fox Over Contracts

July 26, 2012

Vincent Howard has been watching a new development on Los Angeles, California employment law horizon that stole the headlines this week, after the cast of "Modern Family," one of the most popular comedies on television, sued the show's producer Twentieth Century Fox Television in order to invalidate their current contracts.

The Hollywood lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles this week by five of the hit television show cast members including Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Julie Bowen, Sofia Vergara, and Eric Stonestreet, who are all seeking to cancel their current contracts before the show's forth season.

The actors claim in their lawsuit that their agreements violate a California labor code, the "7th Year Rule," which states that personal service contracts lasting over seven years are not enforceable. The Hollywood Reporter (THR), reports this tactic is a common one for actors who seek to void contracts while renegotiating for an increase in compensation.

The actors also state in the Hollywood labor and employment lawsuit, that their contract keeps them from seeking acting opportunities outside the show without the consent of Fox--restricting the possibility for additional employment.

This lawsuit came on the heels of a salary standoff that already delayed this week's scheduled table read, which would have marked the fourth season's start of the television show. Ed O'Neill, who was reportedly receiving around $105,000 per episode in the third season, while his cast mates were receiving around $65,000 per episode, was originally negotiating separately-- until O'Neill recently decided to join the lawsuit as a plaintiff out of solidarity with his cast.

The six Modern Family cast members reportedly have contracts through the seventh season of the television show, but negotiations between the third and fourth seasons are common, when the casts of popular shows reportedly get more compensation in exchange for agreeing to continue acting on the show beyond the seventh season.

In the current negotiations, according a THR report that Vincent Howard has been following, five of the actors are being offered increases to their salary that would total $150,000 per episode in season four, with a $50,000 bonus, $200,000 for each episode in season five, including a $50,000 bonus per episode, $225,000 for season six, and a possible $325,000 for the expected season nine. The "Modern Family" actors reportedly rejected this deal, and are asking for much more, which includes doubling the offered salary if the show goes to eight or nine seasons.

This multiple Emmy-winning television show has been extremely profitable for the network and studio, regularly drawing over 13 million viewers, according to the Nielsen ratings.

In Orange County, California contact attorney Vincent Howard today, at Howard Law, PC.

'Modern Family' Cast Sues 20th TV as Contract Renegotiation Turns Ugly (Exclusive), The Hollywood Reporter, July 24, 2012

'Modern Family' Cast Sues News Corp. to Void Their Contracts, SF Gate, July 24, 2012

'Modern Family' Lawsuit: Stars Sue 20th Century Fox, Reject Contract Offer, The Huffington Post, July 24, 2012

Related Web Resources:

California Department of Industrial Relations, (DIR)

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