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OTRC: 'Modern Family' cast members file lawsuit over contracts

Sofia Vergara, Ed O'Neill, Nolan Gould, Rico Rodriguez, Eric Stonestreet, Aubrey Anderson-Emmons, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ty Burrell, Julie Bowen, Sarah Hyland and Ariel Winter appear in a 2011 promotional photo for the third season of 'Modern Family.'

"Modern Family" cast members Sofia Vergara, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet, Julie Bowen and Ty Burrell, filed a lawsuit against 20th Century Fox Television to void their contracts claiming the contracts are illegal under California law.

The lawsuit was filed on Tuesday, July 24, in Los Angeles and claims that the contracts violate a California law that prohibits personal service contracts from extending more than seven years.

The cast members are seeking a judge to rule the contracts illegal and void them because the contracts prohibit the actors from working outside the television series. The contracts also bind the actor to work on the series from February 2009 to June 30, 2016.

In addition, the lawsuit claims the contracts cap the raises the actors receive for each additional season of the show. For example, Vergara's pay raise per season is capped at five percent, while the rest of her co-stars have a maximum pay increase of four percent per year.

Ferguson, Stonestreet, Bowen and Burrell are also required to perform numerous unpaid publicity obligations.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the lawsuit is just the latest turn of events in salary negotiations for the show's fourth season, which has already delayed the start of filming. Ed O'Neill was initially not a part of the lawsuit when it was filed on Tuesday because, as the industry paper reports, he was negotiating separately from his five co-stars as his salary track was different from theirs.

O'Neill later joined in on the lawsuit in solidarity with his co-stars and is expected to be added as a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

"Modern Family," which currently airs on ABC, won Emmy Awards for Outstanding Comedy Series the past two years. Burrell, Bowen and Stonestreet have won individual Emmys for their work on the show.

The show was recently nominated for 14 Emmy Awards, the most of any sitcom.

Earlier this month, Forbes named Sofia Vergara at the top of their list of highest-paid TV actress.

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