3 Things You Should Know About Workplace Sexual Harassment Suit Pioneer Sandra Bundy

By Sameer Rao Mar 19, 2018

As the #MeToo movement and Time’s Up initiative renew attention to the long history of sexual harassment and assault in professional settings, a new biopic will celebrate the woman whose legal battle made that abuse a punishable offense.


Shadow and Act reported Friday (March 16) that EnLight Productions and Adaptive Studios will make a feature film called "Silence Breaker: The Sandra Bundy Story." The movie will focus on its namesake protagonist, the Black woman who was the first person to have her accusations of workplace harassment upheld by a federal court. In anticipation of the movie, here are three must-know facts about Bundy:

1. She worked with formerly incarcerated peoples.
As she detailed in a Washingtonian magazine profile, Bundy joined the District of Columbia Department of Corrections in 1970. She started as a personnel clerk before rising to the rank of employment specialist. That job involved helping the formerly incarcerated find work and return to society. 

2. She experienced sexual harassment from multiple supervisors.
Bundy told Washingtonian that she endured lewd comments and touching from at least four supervisors, including one man who told her, "Any man in his right mind would want to rape you.” She had no success with filing internal complaints, and even arrived at one meeting to talk about the abuse to find that three of the five people present had previously propositioned her. 

3. Her lawsuit set the precedent for workplace sexual harassment suits.
Bundy filed Bundy v. Jackson with the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in 1977, accusing the Department of Corrections of violating her civil rights by preventing her career advancement in retaliation for her complaints. The lower court ruled that she had not been discriminated against. She filed an appeal with the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which ruled in her favor in 1981, deciding that her rights were violated under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Supreme Court agreed with the finding via its ruling in Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson in 1986.