Fair Use vs Confidential information?

I’m interested in showing work I’ve done at my current position, but I don’t believe that my current employer is familiar with / sympathetic to the notion of Fair Use. I can see their position to the extent that I would not want to have sensitive internal practices to be shared with just anyone. If I were to strip out company-specific information (or not) would I be able to show samples of work done in this position without risking divulging information they’d prefer to keep private? I almost feel like I’m being held hostage by their need for iron-fisted control - versus my need and right to show the level of work I’ve done for them.

Any thoughts on this situation?

Thank you!

The work you did while being paid by them, is theirs, not yours.
Your definition of ‘fair use’ does not apply here, and you have no rights to any of this work - unless you are a contractor and your contract says so.
Ask permission first, as awful as that sounds.

Who do you need to show it to? Are you moving on?

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If it’s preagreed in your employment contract.

If not - it’s no go.

There is such a thing as fair use, but if you’re an employee, the work belongs to the company, not you. You have no more right to use it than anyone else. You might have a fair use legal argument about displaying the work in ways that do not in any way harm or compete with the business — for example, an online portfolio.

That said, as an employee of the company, they also have a right to fire you for violating company policies. If you want to exercise your rights at the risk of them exercising theirs, I suppose that’s up to you.

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Reading that leads me to ask what is the nature of the work you do for them? Is it all internal communication? “Sensitive internal practices” could cover a lot of things, from Engineering secrets to Accounting or Human Resources policy, and I could understand a company taking steps to prevent you from displaying those things outside of intended channels; no “iron fist” needed.

Some designers have multiple portfolios, then show the one most appropriate to the needs of the potential employer.