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.

  • the same register: "to be put on the back burner" could be used.
    – Lambie
    Commented Oct 19, 2023 at 14:51
  • "Constructive dismissal" is the legal term, but I guess that's not what's wanted.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Oct 19, 2023 at 19:47

4 Answers 4



  • 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. Commented Aug 15, 2019 at 19:03
  • 2
    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.) Commented Aug 16, 2019 at 8:42

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.


They've been benched. It's a sports reference to indicate someone has been taken out of play and is sitting on the bench, off-field. "Sidelined" has a similar connotation.


It can be called "Quiet firing" (similar to the expression quieting quitting)

[...] many employers are again considering trimming their workforce. But rather than firing or laying off workers outright, research suggests that companies may increasingly be turning to another, subtler approach: quiet firing.

To avoid the financial, psychological, and legal costs associated with forcing people out, some companies may intentionally create a hostile work environment that encourages people to leave voluntarily.

"Are You Being Quiet Fired?" (Source graciously found by TaliesinMerlin)

  • 1
    Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Commented Oct 19, 2023 at 13:09
  • 1
    @LMrtn This is a really good suggestion. When we ask for supporting information, that could include something like this: hbr.org/2022/11/are-you-being-quiet-fired . In other words, recent usages of the term show that the term is current and used in that way. That makes the answer more credible. Commented Oct 19, 2023 at 17:16

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