EXCLUSIVE: One of the most compelling stories to come out about women’s rights in the workplace is being developed as a feature film, Silence Breaker: The Sandra Bundy Story, thanks to Adaptive Studios and EnLight Productions. In the 1970s, Bundy fought through the courts to stop sexual harassment after being berated about her sexual inclinations by her boss and co-workers at the D.C. Department of Corrections. When she reached a breaking point and confronted the inappropriate, sexually explicit comments and propositions, she was met with the comment: “Any man in his right mind would want to rape you.”
Following her initial complaint, Bundy’s job performance was called into question. When no action was taken after her formal complaint, Bundy filed a lawsuit in 1977 against the department for sexual harassment, claiming her civil rights had been violated; she lost the case and soon after was demoted.
Determined to seek justice, she continued pushing forward, filing an appeal on the lower court decision. After five years of battling, the Supreme Court finally agreed with the appeals verdict, validating her case. The final ruling: workplace sexual harassment is considered discrimination, and therefore a civil rights violation. That decision changed the course of history and improved the conditions for generations of women to come.
Gives new meaning to JFK’s statement “One person can make a difference and everyone should try.” Bundy is now 84 and was the subject of a recent Washingtonian profile. She told the publication: “I had to protect my family, and I had to protect my livelihood. So I had to fight.”
Adaptive Studios, an entertainment studio recently backed by AMC Networks, is doing the project in partnership with EnLight, a media company dedicated to empowering programming.
“Given the spotlight on the #MeToo movement and recent truths about present day sexual harassment in the workplace, it’s important that stories such as Sandra Bundy’s are told and shared with the world,” said Adaptive Studios’ VP Alternative Programming Courtney Parker.
“This case, which is so relevant given the current atmosphere, influences court decisions and proceedings still happening today.”
The film will highlight Bundy’s historical 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. Her court case set the precedent for all subsequent civil rights and equality cases dealing with sexual misconduct at work.
“Sandra Bundy’s story was introduced to us a year ago through her niece—we knew immediately it would be perfect for our Making History series—a brand that was created to uncover the untold stories of trailblazing women in America,” said EnLight production president Adriane Hopper Williams. “This story could not have come to us at a more relevant time as issues of sexual harassment and inequality in the workplace are being addressed in a meaningful way.”
Silence Breaker will be executive produced by Perrin Chiles, TJ Barrack, Marc Joubert and Courtney Parker of Adaptive Studios, and Williams of EnLight Productions.
EnLight, which previously produced the syndicated TD Jakes talk show with partners 44 Blue Productions TEGNA, is repped by CAA.