Fraternization, or "to become like brothers or family members," is a term that carries within it the connotation of impropriety in terms of morals, ethics, social expectations and professionalism. Militaries typically prohibit officers and enlisted ranks from personally associating outside of their professional duties and orders, perhaps to avoid accusations of favouritism, which would challenge military discipline; excessively familiar relationships between officers of different ranks may also be considered fraternization, especially when between officers in the same chain of command; and another reason involves avoidance of spreading military top secrets, a crime that carries legal charges (see United States military law) under treason or sedition in extreme cases.
Fraternization outside the militaryProfessions besides the military also prohibit fraternization. Professional and college-level sports teams in North America have enacted anti-fraternization policies between athletes and cheerleaders. Only one professional team, the Oakland Raiders of the NFL, allows casual contacts between player and cheerleader. There are many reasons for this. For one thing, relationships between players and cheerleaders can interfere with the needed concentration to remain competitive. The consequences intensify if the athlete is married while courting his team cheerleader. The publicity fallout of such a liaison would damage the whole team's image. It is also considered prudent to regulate fraternization with cheerleaders due to the large socio-economical gap between them and their team's players: such unequal relationships more frequently result in sex crimes or sexual harassment than average.
Private for-profit schools may prohibit fraternization between teachers and students, perhaps to prevent the teachers from exercising favouritism and to avoid potential sexual harassment problems. In the early 21st century, an increased frequency of incidents of improper and illegal sexual relations between teachers and students in U.S. public schools stirred public emotion. This caused more US states and countries to regulate fraternization between teachers and students to avoid possible sex crime charges and bad publicity. There has been controversy surrounding unionized public education teachers; with tenure, they cannot be fired, even in the face of substantial evidence of unethical fraternization, if there is no conviction of a crime.
Since the 1990s, more business corporations have adopted anti-fraternization policies to protect professionalism and workplace productivity, as well to combat sexual harassment lawsuits. Many critics, however, assert that this is done to prevent the forming of labor unions if the company has a union-free policy. By adapting anti-fraternization policies, they can put punishments in place for workers who seek to organize outside the workplace. Other motives include the promotion of gender equality and women's rights and the prevention of sexism: the belief is that gender harassment often starts with open or subliminal forms of improper association and unprofessional fraternization. In fact, some U.S. states recognize a superior taking advantage of a co-worker of the opposite sex as, if gender was the motive, a hate crime or the emotional abuse of individuals because they are female or male.
Some U.S. states, through court case decisions, began to allow (with regulation) the legal right to restrict co-employees from fraternizing with each other, which can arguably be a challenge to the individuals freedom of association. It is a frequent controversial subject and anti-fraternization rules in the workplace to prevent sexual harassment have been said to be nothing but an extreme form of political correctness gone astray.
fraternalism in Norwegian: Fraternisering