The former resident managers of an Agoura Hills mobile home park impacted by the Woolsey Fire are suing their former employers, alleging they were wrongfully fired in 2020 for complaining about both exposure to the coronavirus and abuses by tenants and members of the public.
Married couple Doug Olson, 68, and Linda Bell, 73, brought the Los Angeles Superior Court suit on Friday against Seminole Springs Mobilehome Park Inc., also alleging retaliation, breach of contract, assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence. They seek unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
“Plaintiffs were extremely distressed by this outrageous conduct,” the suit states.
A phone message left on the Mulholland Highway mobile home park’s answering machine was not returned.
Olson and Bell “devoted their lives and well-being to the community, throughout the devastation of the Woolsey fire and COVID,” according to the suit, which further states that the plaintiffs provided security, management and maintenance services to Seminole Springs residents and interacted with the public and frequent trespassers.
Many of the residents as well as some outsiders were abusive and harassed the couple, but management did nothing to make the couple feel safe and secure in their work environment, the suit alleges.
The 2018 Woolsey Fire burned 96,949 acres of land, destroyed 1,643 structures, killed three people and prompted the evacuation of more than 295,000 individuals in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. News reports from November 2019 stated that a year after the blaze, Seminole Springs residents had not yet been allowed to return to their homes.
Olson and Bell suffered from exposure to unhealthful conditions caused by the fire, the coronavirus and other workplace issues, leaving them disabled and in need of medical care, the suit states.
Olson and Bell were fired in June 2020 without warning and removed from their longtime home in the park two months later during some of the worst days of the coronavirus and while they were both suffering illnesses, the suit states.
Although management told the couple they were being terminated because some of their job duties had been eliminated, the work they did was taken over by a younger healthy employee who did not need job accommodations, the suit states.
From the time they were hired until they were stripped of their jobs, park management told Olson and Bell that the mobile home park was a safe, good place to work, that they were considered valuable members of the community and that their devotion to the community during the Woolsey Fire would be honored, the suit states.