Executives at the union allege Daniels' company, Lee Daniels Entertainment, has failed to pay residuals or make the contributions for the 2005 movie Shadowboxer, which starred Cuba Gooding Jr., Helen Mirren and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Empire creator faced a confidential arbitration over the dispute in 2009 and in 2011, bosses at the union were awarded $335,000 (£223,000).

They have now asked a judge to confirm the award before the four-year statute of limitations expires.

"SAG-AFTRA respects Mr. Daniels as a producer and director and has not taken any legal action against him individually," a spokesperson for the union says. "This dispute is with the corporate entities responsible for residuals payments on the film."