Inside the ‘Seinfeld’ Episode That Got a Miller Brewing Executive Fired
NBC’s Seinfeld created the perfect commentary for a ’90s world. The sitcom touched on everyday situations and turned them into something funny and relatable. Some episodes caught more flak than others, and that’s exactly what co-creators Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld intended. In fact, “The Junior Mint” episode got one man fired from his job.
The ‘Junior Mint’ episode recap
The “Junior Mint” episode revolves around Jerry’s girlfriend. Namely, it’s that he can’t remember her name. What he does remember is it rhymes with a female body part.
The star and part of his crew — George (Jason Alexander) and Kramer (Michael Richards) — take a stab at what her name might be. A couple of guesses include “Mulva” and “Gipple.” When his girlfriend realizes Jerry doesn’t know her name, it comes to him as she storms off: Dolores.
One of Seinfeld‘s many gifts is subtle insinuation. The sitcom lasted as long as it did with millions of viewers week after week because of its ability to utilize the power of suggestion as opposed to stating the obvious.
However, it’s this very episode that landed one Miller Brewing employee in hot water.
How the ‘Seinfeld’ episode ended in job termination
Miller Brewing executive Jerold Mackenzie lost his job in 1993, the Los Angeles Times reports. The termination came after Mackenzie discussed the Junior Mint episode co-worker Patricia Best, and she complained. Mackenzie testified that he didn’t actually say the word that rhymes with “Delores” — but instead, he showed her a dictionary page with the word.
“You should be able to talk to your co-workers. You should be able to talk to subordinates as you would talk to anybody else,” Mackenzie said via the Los Angeles Times.
Miller Brewing attorney Mary Pat Ninneman said the Seinfeld conversation was just one of the reasons that led to Mackenzie’s firing.
“He was on thin ice,” Ninneman said, adding that Mackenzie faced previous reprimands in 1989 for alleged sexual misconduct.
Mackenzie filed a lawsuit against the company where he banked $95,000 per year, claiming multiple people “interfered with his employment” and that no one notified him about his termination. Mackenzie also added he was “too old” to find similar employment elsewhere.
Mackenzie’s lawyer Gerald Boyle alleged that Miller wanted to fire Mackenzie for years but used Seinfeld as the scapegoat.
“He’s a goof who comes into work and talks about Seinfeld and finds himself for 1,573 days without a job,” Boyle said.
The jury deliberated for six hours before deciding Mackenzie’s fate.
Here’s how the case concluded
The jury didn’t find that the discussion of Seinfeld‘s “Junior Mint” episode qualified as sexual misconduct. Mackenzie won $26.6 million in damages.
Miller Brewing appealed the case. In 2000, a Wisconsin appeals court reversed the previous judgment awarded to Mackenzie. The court said Mackenzie “failed to prove that Miller intended to deceive him or that he was financially damaged as a result of any alleged misrepresentation,” according to CBS News.
The moral of this story is don’t talk about Seinfeld at work — especially if it’s a particularly questionable storyline.