The #MeToo movement may be gaining momentum now, but it actually started years ago with a young African-American woman who won the first ever lawsuit regarding sexual harassment in the workplace.
That woman’s name is Sandra Bundy and now her story is in the process of getting the feature film treatment. Thanks to Adaptive Studios and EnLight Productions, Silence Breaker: The Sandra Bundy Story is currently in development.
“Taking a look at what is happening today in the workplace and the #MeToo movement, stories like Sandra Bundy’s should be told,” said Adaptive Studios’ VP of Alternative Programming Courtney Parker. Silence Breaker will be executive produced by Perrin Chiles, TJ Barrack, Marc Joubert, EnLight production President Adriane Hopper Williams, and Parker.
The film will be centered around the historic 1981 court case Bundy v. Jackson which determined that sexual harassment in the workplace violated the civil rights act of 1964 and categorized sexual harassment as employment discrimination. In fact, Bundy’s court case set the precedent for all subsequent civil rights and equality cases dealing with sexual misconduct at work.
While working for the D.C. Department of Corrections (DCDC) in the 1970s, Bundy said she was sexually berated about her sexual inclinations by her boss and co-workers and decided to take legal action.
Bundy joined the DCDC in 1970 and was promoted several times but starting in 1972 she said in court papers that she began to be sexually harassed by a number of fellow employees and supervisors, including Delbert Jackson, who went on to become the director of the DCDC. When she complained to her supervisors’ superior, he told her that “any man in his right mind would want to rape you.”
Soon, Bundy was being criticized about her work performance. She decided to file a formal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. When that effort didn’t garner any results, she filed a suit in 1977 in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. She lost the case, but she didn’t give up. Bundy appealed and eventually the case was heard by the Supreme Court, which ruled workplace sexual harassment is discrimination, and therefore a civil rights violation.
“Considering what is happening the workplace today and the conversations being had, I think it is important for people to hear her story,” said Parker. “As an African-American woman working in Hollywood, I think it is important for us to be part of the community to shape the narrative.”
Bundy is now 84 and is actively involved in the Adaptive Studios feature.
Parker first learned about Bundy while meeting with EnLight’s Williams about a docu-series titled “Making History” which focused on women history makers. “When I landed at Adaptive I wanted to work on projects I was most passionate about and I was extremely passionate about Sandra Bundy’s story,” said Parker, who previously wrote for and worked on “Law & Order” for seven years and has authored several nonfiction and fiction books. She also has executive produced or co-executive produced several reality TV shows, including Oxygen’s true crime series, “Three Days To Live,” TV One’s “Hollywood Divas,” and OWN’s “It’s Not You, It’s Men” talk show with Rev Run and Tyrese Gibson.