Five cast members from hit TV comedy Modern Family have filed a lawsuit to have their contracts declared void, which could help them renegotiate much better pay.
According to show business newspaper Variety, the actors did not show up Tuesday for the first readings of the fourth season.
"Since its debut on ABC in the fall of 2009, Modern Family has been one of the most successful shows on television," the plaintiffs wrote in the complaint filed at a court in Los Angeles.
"Modern Family has been a breakout critical and financial success. That success, however, has been built upon a collection of illegal contracts," the complaint continues.
The only actor not included in the complaint is Ed O'Neill, of Married with Children fame, who started off with a better contract as the only cast member already well-known to American audiences.
The five other adult actors -- Ty Burrell, Julie Bowen, Jesse Tyler Fergusen, Eric Stonestreet, and Colombian actress Sofia Vergara -- say the contract they signed was illegal, because it violates a union rule that prohibits contracts for "personal services" that last longer than seven years.
The actors each earn between $60 000 to $65 000 per episode, while O'Neill gets $100 000, Variety has reported. During negotiations before shooting the fourth season, the studio offered them $150 000 per episode, with increases in subsequent seasons.
But according to the Hollywood Reporter, the cast is asking for more, including more than $300 000 an episode if show goes past an eighth season.
Modern Family, an Emmy-award winning comedy about a dysfunctional family, features Stonestreet and Fergusen as a homosexual couple who adopt a Vietnamese daughter, and Burrell as the childish husband to Bowen's obsessive stay-at-home wife and mother.
Vergara, the highest paid Hispanic actress in Hollywood according to Forbes magazine, plays the beautiful and much younger wife of O'Neill.
Representatives of the actors have not responded to requests for comment.