Screencap of Twitter post from @DrDoyleSays who lists name as Dr. Glenn Patrick Doyle, which says "there are a lot of ways to be abandoned. Don't come at me with "you were never left on the side of the road." Lots of people reading this know you don't have to be literally left on the side of the road to feel like you were."

If you search “work abandonment” in your favorite search engine, you’ll find lots of information about “job abandonment” where you simply don’t call in or show up for your assigned shifts and after a few days (usually 3), your employer can declare you’ve abandoned the job and fire you. However, there’s very little information about employees being abandoned by managers or coworkers. Perhaps it’s because people find it hard to believe an employer would abandon an employee, or because most people work in larger offices where it’s more difficult to spot abandonment.

Work abandonment is easier to identify in a smaller office or company. It may begin as exclusion from outings or after work socialization. Issues brought up in company meetings may go unaddressed. Information asked for to help you do your job may never be provided. Eventually, the abandoned employee may simply never be told things that are pertinent to their job, left to guess and wonder. In its worse case, the employee isn’t even provided with pay stubs or given information and emails and questions will go unanswered.

Work abandonment can create a hostile work environment, and while there aren’t any laws about hostile work environments, if it is able to be tied to discrimination (such as when a neurodivergent employee) is abandoned, then it may be something that can be addressed through legal means. But most likely if you’re being abandoned by your employer, then the best thing to do is to simply walk away. Most individuals who are affected are marginalized and many states have a “sue first and see” type of policy where the Department of Labor doesn’t really enforce any laws. They simply decide if an infraction happened and then leave it up to the employee to sue in civil court for resolution. This isn’t ideal, and for the marginalized employee, presents additional barriers. Therefore, if you feel you’re being abandoned, then the best thing to do is to walk away when able.

Work abandonment affects our work wellness because it affects our mental health. It also can affect our financial and physical health, depending on the depth of the abandonment and what we have to do in order to compensate. Work abandonment is one of the more insidious ways that employers will attempt to control employees or even punish them. In short, it tells employees that they’re not worth thinking about or engaging with, and the trauma from that can be difficult to recover from.

I encourage you to seek support, but in my experience, many professionals don’t understand work abandonment. Instead, they ask the employee “how could this have happened?” or “why?” which only leads the employee to feeling that there is something wrong with them–not that something wrong is being done to them. So if you’re being abandoned, seek support where you can, but also if you find that people don’t believe you or see what is happening as wrong, ensure that you’re not relying on them completely. You know what’s happening. Trust yourself.