I am looking for an equivalent of the French “mettre au placard”.

It literally translates as “to put in the closet” and describes the fact of assigning no missions to someone on the job without actually firing them. It is often interpreted as a way of punishing them for doing something that cannot be used as a reason to lay off someone (e.g. an employee refusing to maximize corporate profit through shady practices). There is typically no explanation from the employer, so these words convey the idea that the process is somewhat no very honest. This results in an employee showing up to work with no purpose and feeling socially and professionally excluded in the company environment.

I need a word or phrasing that ideally conveys both the malice of the process and the negative personal consequences.


I would suggest marginalize -- or workplace marginalization.

verb (used with object), mar·gin·al·ized, mar·gin·al·iz·ing. to place in a position of marginal importance, influence, or power: the government's attempts to marginalize criticism and restore public confidence.

If you google, you'll find a lot of articles on the subject. Here is an extract from an article: Marginalization. What it means and why it matters:

Marginalization in the workplace

In the workplace context, marginalization is the result of systemic actions that the "in group" takes — whether consciously or unconsciously — to alienate or disenfranchise a specific person or groups of people by sidelining them from the group's main activities and contributions.



  • to force someone or something into a situation in which they have less influence or importance than before:
    • After I got pregnant, I felt that my bosses were sidelining me.
    • The oil industry would be very unhappy if this legislation was sidelined
  • to stop someone taking an active and important part in something:
    • He was sidelined after criticizing the policy


  • Gaslighting is something different. – DJClayworth Aug 15 '19 at 19:03
  • 1
    I upvoted this purely for sideline, which is the word I would have suggested. However, I find gaslighting to be completely wrong. I suggest removing that, and expanding sideline to include its definition. (As well as separating it from put out to graze. Really, sideline alone is fine.) – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Aug 16 '19 at 8:42

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.