Five of the adult cast members of Modern Family — Ty Burrell, Julie Bowen, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet and Sofia Vergara — have sued 20th Century Fox Television, seeking to void their contracts in the wake of a negotiation breakdown this week, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, comes after a scheduled table read was abruptly canceled Tuesday morning when several cast members said they would not attend.
On Monday, the cast rejected an offer from 20th Century Fox, which produces the show. The offer reportedly included salaries ranging from $200,000 per episode in Season 4 to $325,000 per episode if the series stretches to nine seasons, according to a previous THR report. The five cast members named in the lawsuit — all of whom were nominated for Emmys last week — are seeking more than double that amount if the show lasts for eight or nine seasons.
By negotiating together, the quintet is using the same tactic that the cast of Friends did when that show was at the height of its popularity in the 1990s. The lawsuit claims that their contracts violate California's "7 Year Rule," which states that personal service contracts can not last longer than seven years.
Ed O'Neill, who rounds out the adult members of the ensemble, is allegedly negotiating his salary separately; however, he made more than $100,000 per episode for the show's most recent season, while his colleagues netted about $65,000, according to THR.
Both ABC and 20th Century Fox confirmed that Tuesday's table read had been canceled, but would not elaborate further on the contract negotiations or on the lawsuit.
In addition to being a ratings and awards juggernaut, last year, Modern Family generated $165 million in advertising revenue for ABC, according to THR.
(Additional reporting by Natalie Abrams)