CODE OF ETHICS

Among the primary missions of Special Services Group North America LLC (referred to as SSG) is to help safeguard people and property throughout all of our business operations in the United States and aboard while providing a safe, professional, respectful and enjoyable environment for SSG employees, clients, contractors and other business affiliates within its capabilities and limitations. Additionally, SSG is also committed to promoting social and environmental programs, and encouraging employees to participate in programs that promote social well-being and environmental sustainability.

SSG founder believes that sustainable progress is possible through the drive of individuals with the vision and motivation to improve their condition and the environment of those around them. As a result, SSG is committed to help empower people to realize their vision and transform their lives, families, neighborhoods and the environment towards a sustainable future.

SSG is committed to promoting social justice and social change with and on behalf of employees, clients, individuals, groups, organizations, and communities. SSG leadership is sensitive to cultural and ethnic diversity and strive to end discrimination, oppression, poverty, and other forms of social injustice. As a result, SSG is committed to promoting social programs and sponsor organizational-wide programs and policies that conform to these objectives. These activities may be in the form of direct practices, supporting organization of community programs, supervising practices, consultation, advocacy, social and political action, policy development and implementation and educational programs.

The mission of Special Services Group North America LLC is based on the following core values:

– Service
– Social Justice
– Dignity of Self Worth
– Importance of Human Relations
– Integrity
– Competence

This collection of core values reflects what is unique to the service profession. Core values, and the principles that flow from them, must be balanced within the context and complexity of the human experience.

Purpose of Code of Ethics

Professional ethics are at the core of Special Services Group North America. As a result, SSG has an obligation to articulate its basic values, ethical principles, and ethical standards. SSG’s Code of Ethics sets forth these values, principles, and standards to guide its directors, officers, employees, contractors and interns conduct regardless of their position within SSG, their functions or the location where they serve.

The Code of Ethics serves six purposes:

1- The Code identifies the core values on which Special Services Group North America LLC’s mission is based.
2- The Code summarizes the broad ethical principles that reflect SSG’s core values and establishes a set of specific ethical standards that should be used to guide SSG personnel, interns and contractors regardless of their position, function or location.
3- The Code is designed to help SSG’s directors, officers, employees, interns, contractors and other representatives identify relevant considerations when professional obligations conflict or when ethical uncertainties arise.
4- The Code provides ethical standards to which the general public can hold SSG, its employees and representatives accountable for.
5- The Code familiarizes new employees, interns, and contractors with SSG’s mission, values, ethical principles and standards.
6- The Code articulates standards that the SSG directors, employees, interns, contractors and other representatives can use to assess whether SSG employees or authorized representatives have engaged in unethical conduct.

SSG has formal procedures to adjudicate ethics complaints filed against its employees, interns, contractors and other representatives. In subscribing to this Code, SSG directors, officers, employees, interns and contractors are required to cooperate in its implementation, participate in SSG adjudication proceedings, and abide by any SSG disciplinary rulings or sanctions based on The Code and established SSG policies.

The Code offers a set of values, principles, and standards to guide decision making and conduct when ethical issues arise.
Due to the countless variety of conditions that may arise during the performance of SSG operations, it is nearly impossible to account for all potential conditions and conflicts that may arise. As a result, The Code would not be able to reasonably provide a set of rules that prescribe how SSG employees and representatives should act in all potential situations. Therefore, specific applications of the The Code must take into account the context in which it is being considered and the possibility of conflicts among the Code‘s values, principles, and standards. Ethical responsibilities flow from all human relationships, from the personal and familial to the social and professional.

Furthermore, SSG Code of Ethics does not specify which values, principles, and standards are most important. Policies should be outweighed with others in instances when they conflict. When in doubt, the most restrictive ethical actions should be taken to avoid the perception of a premeditated violation. Reasonable differences of opinion can and do exist among professionals with respect to the ways in which values, ethical principles, and ethical standards should be ranked when they conflict. Ethical decision making in a given situation must apply the informed judgment of the individual professional while weighting how the issues in question would be judged in a peer review process or during administrative or legal proceedings where the ethical standards of the profession would be applied.

Ethical decision making is a process. There are many instances in our profession where simple answers are not available to resolve complex ethical issues. SSG directors, officers, employees, interns, contractors and other representatives should take into consideration all the values, principles, and standards in this Code that are relevant to any situation in which ethical judgment is warranted. All decisions and actions should be consistent with principles and ethical standards described in this Code.  In addition to this Code, there are many other sources of information regarding ethics that may be useful. SSG directors, officers, employees, interns and contractors should consider ethical theory and principles, federal, state and local laws and regulations, agency policies, and other relevant codes of ethics while recognizing that SSG codes of ethics should prevail. If a conflict exists, and it is reasonably possible, SSG managers, officers or directors should be contacted for clarification. In the event that contacting a manger, officer or director is not feasible, common sense should prevail and the most restrictive ethical standards should be applied.

SSG directors, officers and employees should be aware of the impact on ethical decision making of their clients, their own personal values and the cultural and religious beliefs and practices of the people around them and the region were they are working. They should be aware of any conflicts between personal and professional values and deal with them responsibly and under the provisions of this code and all applicable laws. For additional guidance SSG employees and other representatives should consult the relevant literature on professional ethics and ethical decision making, and seek appropriate consultation when faced with ethical dilemmas. This may involve consultation with an agency-based ethics committee, knowledgeable colleagues, supervisors, a regulatory body or legal counsel.

There may be instances where conflicts may arise, when SSG directors, officers and employees ethical obligations may conflict with agency policies or relevant laws or regulations. When such conflicts occur, SSG directors, officers, employees, interns and other representatives must make a responsible effort to resolve the conflict in a manner that is consistent with the values, principles, and standards expressed in this Code and with applicable laws. If a reasonable resolution of the conflict does not appear possible, SSG directors, officers, employees, interns, contractors and other representatives should make all reasonable efforts to seek proper consultation before making a decision.

This Code was made possible thanks to the efforts of the NASW and their kind gesture in authorizing other organizations to use their Code of Ethics. Violation of standards in this Code does not automatically imply legal liability or violation of the law. Such determination can only be made in the context of legal and judicial proceedings. Alleged violations of the Code would be subject to a peer review process. Such processes are generally separate from legal or administrative procedures and insulated from legal review or proceedings to allow SSG to counsel and discipline its own members.

It must be noted that while SSG will make every reasonable effort to ensure that all of its directors, officers, employees, interns, contractors and other representatives follow this Code of Ethics, a code of ethics by itself cannot guarantee ethical behavior. Moreover, it is also impossible to expect that a code of ethics would resolve all ethical issues or disputes, or capture the richness and complexity involved in striving to make responsible choices within a moral community. Rather, a code of ethics sets forth values, ethical principles, and ethical standards to which professionals aspire, and by which their actions can be judged. SSG directors, officers, employees and related representative’s ethical behavior should result from their personal commitment to engage in ethical practice. SSG Code of Ethics reflects the commitment that all professionals should follow in upholding these values and in acting ethically. Principles and standards must be applied by individuals of good character who discern moral questions and, in good faith, seek to make reliable ethical judgments.

Ethical Principles

The following broad ethical principles are based on SSG’s core values of service, social justice, dignity and worth of the person, importance of human relationships, integrity, and competence. These principles set forth ideals to which all professionals should aspire.

Value: Service
Ethical Principle: SSG’s primary goal is to serve clients and to help safeguard people while simultaneously attempting to address some of today’s social problems.
SSG employees should aim to elevate service to others above self-interest by drawing on their knowledge, values, and skills to help people in need and to help address social problems. SSG encourages its employees to volunteer and support programs dedicated to alleviate or control social and, or environmental problems.

Value: Social Justice
Ethical Principle: SSG challenges social injustice.
The founder of SSG believes that businesses and professional organizations and their representatives should be committed to pursue social change, particularly with and on behalf of vulnerable and oppressed individuals and groups of people in society regardless of their customs or national origin. As a business organization, SSG is concern with problems faced by societies around the world. Among these problems are those such as crime and terrorism, poverty, unemployment, discrimination, and other forms of social injustice. SSG is committed to promote internal programs to create sensitivity to, and knowledge about oppression and cultural and ethnic diversity. As a secondary objective under this mission, SSG is also committed to help other organizations within its abilities and limitation, alleviate social problems and injustice.

Value: Dignity and Worth of the Person
Ethical Principle: All members of society should respect the inherent dignity and worth of other individuals. SSG directors, officers, employees, interns, contractors and other representatives should treat all persons in a caring and respectful fashion; and be mindful of individual differences and cultural and ethnic diversity. SSG directors, officers, employees, interns snd other representatives should promote others socially responsible self-determination, seek to enhance others capacity and opportunity to change and to address their own needs. SSG directors, officers, employees and other representatives should be cognizant of their dual responsibility to clients and to the broader society. They seek to resolve conflicts between clients’ interests and the broader society’s interests in a socially responsible manner consistent with the values, ethical principles, and ethical standards.

Value: Importance of Human Relationships
Ethical Principle: SSG directors, officers and employees should recognize the central importance of human relationships.
SSG directors, officers and employees should understand that relationships between and among people are an important vehicle for change. SSG directors, officers and employees should engage people as partners in the helping process, seeking to strengthen relationships among people in a purposeful effort to promote, restore, maintain, and enhance the well-being of individuals, groups, organizations, and communities.

Value: Integrity
Ethical Principle: Security and investigations professionals should be trustworthy.
SSG directors, officers, employees, interns, contractors and authorized representatives should strive to always be mindful of SSG’s mission, values, ethical principles, and ethical standards and practice, and to act in a manner consistent with them. SSG directors, officers, employees, interns, contractors and authorized representatives should always act honestly and responsibly, and promote ethical standards and practices promoted by SSG and those of the organizations they are serving. When a client’s policies are less stringent, SSG employees should always abide by SSG ethical policies and practices. However, if the policies and practices of a client are stricter than those of SSG, SSG employees shall adopt the client’s policies and practices as long as they do not violate federal, state and local laws and regulations. Every reasonable effort shall be made to promptly inform SSG management of any discrepancies in policies, practices and standards. If a policy, practice or standard knowingly violates any laws or regulations, SSG employees shall notify SSG management immediately and if safe to do so, attempt to prevent or stop a violation and notify SSG supervisors and management without delay or at the earliest reasonable time.

Value: Competence
Ethical Principle: SSG directors, officers, employees, interns, contractors and other representatives shall perform their duties and practice their professions within their areas of competence and develop and enhance their professional expertise.
Professionals continually strive to increase their professional knowledge and skills, and to apply them in practice. SSG encourages its directors, officers, employees, interns, contractors and other representatives to aspire to contribute to the knowledge base of industry professionals.

Ethical Standards

The following ethical standards are relevant to the professional activities of all professionals in the security and investigations industry. These standards concern (1) ethical responsibilities to clients, (2) ethical responsibilities to colleagues, (3) ethical responsibilities in operational settings, (4) ethical responsibilities as professionals, (5) ethical responsibilities to the security and investigations industry, and (6) ethical responsibilities to society.

The following standards represent a combination of enforceable guidelines for professional conduct, recommendations for professional development, along with a number of suggestions to promote positive social and environmental change.
The extent to which each standard is enforceable is a matter of professional judgment to be exercised by those responsible for reviewing alleged violations of ethical standards.

1. ETHICAL RESPONSIBILITIES TO CLIENTS

1.01 Commitment to Clients

SSG’s directors, officers, employees and interns primary responsibility is to promote the well-being of clients. In general, SSG’s clients’ interests are of the outmost importance. However, SSG’s directors, officers, employees, interns and contractor’s responsibility to society and other specific legal obligations may on limited occasions supersede the loyalty owed to clients, and clients should be so advised of these legal obligations. Examples to these legal obligations include, but are not limited to when SSG directors, officers, employees or representatives are required by law to report a crime committed in their presence, when a client has abused a child or has threatened to harm self or others.

1.02 Informed Consent

(a) SSG personnel should provide services to clients only in the context of a professional relationship based on the provisions of the contracts and applicable regulations. When appropriate, SSG management and authorized personnel should use clear and understandable language to inform clients or their authorized representative (client clearance required) if appropriate, of the purpose of the services, risks related to the services, legal and contractual limits to the services provided based on legal and contractual obligations to client, relevant costs when appropriate for the purpose of authorizing additional or extended services; reasonable alternatives; clients’ right to refuse or withdraw consent, and the time frame covered by the consent. SSG authorized representatives should provide clients with an opportunity to ask questions.
(b) In instances when clients are not literate or have difficulty understanding the primary language used in the professional setting, SSG representatives should take steps to ensure clients’ comprehension. This may include providing clients with a detailed verbal explanation or arranging for a qualified interpreter or translator whenever possible.
(c) In instances when clients lack the capacity to provide informed consent, SSG representatives should protect clients’ interests by seeking guidance and or permission from an authorized representative and make every reasonable effort to inform client of the measures authorized, consistent with the clients’ level of understanding. In such instances SSG representatives should seek to ensure that the third party acts in a manner consistent with clients’ interest and well-being.
(d) In instances when clients or SSG assignments are receiving services involuntarily, the authorizing organization and SSG representatives should provide client or assigned party information about the nature and extent of SSG services and about the extent of clients’ or assignment’s right to refuse service.
(e) Social workers should obtain clients’ informed consent before audio-taping or videotaping clients or permitting an unauthorized third party to approach or engage client.

1.03 Competence

(a) SSG employees and representatives should only provide services and represent themselves as competent only within the boundaries of the law and their education, training, license, certification and applicable and relevant professional experience based on the limitations of their position.
(b) SSG employees and representatives should only provide services in substantive areas of expertise, and only use standard industry approved strategies and approaches that are consistent with legal and ethical standards, and that they are proficient in, based on appropriate study, training, and consultation, and that have been properly supervises by people who are competent in those strategies or techniques.
(c) When generally recognized standards are not known or do not exist with respect to an emerging situation or concern in the performance of duties, SSG employees and representatives should exercise careful judgment and if possible take responsible steps to include seeking appropriate guidance or direction to protect client, the public and other personnel.
(d) After responding to a new situation that has not been encountered before, SSG personnel shall submit a “After Action Report” and inform SSG management in order to ensure that SSG management seeks expert guidance in this matter. SSG management shall make every effort to seek appropriate guidance and, or training, and follow with the development of appropriate research-based educational and training material for the organization and when necessary, for the industry as a whole.

1.04 Cultural Competence and Social Diversity

(a) SSG directors, officers, employees and other representatives should understand and acknowledge cultural differences and the benefits and function of culture in human behavior and society, recognizing the strengths that exist in all cultures.
(b) SSG directors, officers, employees and other representatives should have a knowledge base of their clients’ cultures and be able to demonstrate competence in providing services that are sensitive to the cultural differences and values of clients and other individuals, and to the differences among people in various cultural groups.
(c) SSG directors, officers, employees and authorized representatives should seek to obtain education about, and seek to understand the nature of social diversity and oppression with respect to race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, and mental or physical disability.
(d) SSG directors, officers, employees and authorized representatives should serve as cultural ambassadors and help SSG promote organizational wide education and programs designed to create social awareness of diversity and the important social contributions of offered by diverse cultures.

1.05 Conflicts of Interest

(a) SSG directors, officers, employees and other representatives should be alert to and avoid conflicts of interest that interfere with the exercise of professional discretion and impartial judgment.
(b) SSG directors, officers, employees and other representatives should inform clients when a real or potential conflict of interest arises and take reasonable steps to resolve the issue in a manner that makes the clients’ interests primary and protects clients’ interests to the greatest extent possible. In some cases, protecting clients’ interests may require termination of the professional relationship, with proper referral of the client to seek the services of another competent organization. SSG personnel shall always adhere to the core principles of honesty, integrity, truthfulness, the rule of law, and kindness and self control in dealing with others.
(c) SSG directors, officers, employees and other representatives should not take unfair advantage of any professional relationship or exploit others to further their personal, religious, political, or business interests.
(d) SSG directors, officers, employees and other representatives should not engage in dual or multiple relationships with clients or former clients in which there is a risk of exploitation or potential harm to the client and, or SSG. In instances when dual or multiple relationships are unavoidable, SSG personnel and other representatives should take the reasonable, legal and ethical steps necessary to protect clients and SSG, and are responsible for setting clear, appropriate, and culturally sensitive boundaries. For the purpose of this code, dual or multiple relationships occur when SSG personnel and other representatives relate to clients in more than one relationship; whether professional, social, or business relationships. Dual or multiple relationships can occur simultaneously or consecutively.
(e) When SSG personnel and authorized representatives provide services to two or more clients who have a relationship with each other and such services may represent or may be perceived to represent a conflict of interest, SSG personnel or its authorized representative should clarify with all parties the extent of the services provided under such situations. SSG directors, officers, employees and other representatives who anticipate a conflict of interest among the individuals receiving services or who anticipate having to perform in potentially conflicting roles should clarify their role with the parties involved and take appropriate action to minimize any conflict of interest.
(f) SSG personnel and authorized representatives should refrain discussing political, religious, sexual, ethnic, or other sensitive subject with each other, clients, the public or any other individual while performing duties for SSG and, or when using uniforms or other articles or apparel that identifies individuals as SSG personnel or contractors. These subjects have the potential of developing into arguments or giving the false impression that SSG supports any given position in such topics. As a result, these subjects should be avoided at all cost; unless they are discussed during a supervised official training or educational event with moderation.

1.06 Privacy and Confidentiality

(a) SSG directors, officers, employees and authorized representatives should respect clients’ right to privacy. SSG personnel should not solicit private information from clients unless it is essential to providing services or for research associated to the performance of contracted services. Once private information is shared, standards of confidentiality will apply.
(b) Only SSG directors, officers and authorized representatives may disclose confidential information when appropriate with valid consent from the client or a person legally authorized to consent on behalf of a client. While every effort to protect Client information will be made, Client should be aware of SSG’s legal requirement to divulge certain confidential information during legal proceedings in a court of law.
(c) SSG directors, officers, employees and other representatives should protect the confidentiality of all information obtained in the course of professional service, except for compelling professional reasons. The general expectation that contract workers and organizations will keep information confidential does not apply when disclosure is necessary to prevent serious, foreseeable, and imminent harm to a client or other identifiable person. In all instances, SSG personnel should only disclose the least amount of confidential information necessary to meet legal mandates. And only information that is directly relevant to the purpose for which the disclosure is mandated by legal requirements should be revealed.
(d) SSG directors, officers and authorized representatives should inform clients, to the extent possible, about the disclosure of confidential information and the potential consequences, when feasible before the disclosure is made. This applies whether SSG Personnel is required to disclose confidential information on the basis of a legal requirement or client consent.
(e) SSG management or authorized representative should discuss with clients and other interested parties the nature of confidentiality and limitations of clients’ right to confidentiality. SSG management or authorized representative should review with its clients the circumstances where confidential information may be requested and where disclosure of confidential information may be legally required. This discussion should occur as soon as possible in the company-client relationship and as needed throughout the course of the relationship.
(f) When SSG personnel is required to share client information with law enforcement and other organizations in order to fulfill the requirements of the contract, SSG will make every reasonable and legal attempt to ensure that all parties involved in the process agree to maintain the confidentiality of the information shared. However, Client must understand that SSG cannot guaranty that all participants will honor such agreements; therefore, exempting SSG from liability for the release of such information.
(g) SSG directors, officers, employees and other representatives should not disclose confidential information to third-parties unless clients have authorized such disclosure.
(h) SSG directors, officers, employees and other representatives should not discuss confidential client information in any setting unless privacy can be ensured. SSG personnel should not discuss confidential information in public or semipublic areas such as hallways, waiting rooms, elevators, restaurants, buses, taxis, or any other setting or vehicle were unauthorized individuals may eavesdrop on the conversation.
(i) SSG directors, officers, employees and other representatives should protect the confidentiality of clients during legal proceedings to the extent permitted by law. When a court of law or other legally authorized body orders SSG personnel to disclose confidential or privileged information without a client’s consent and such disclosure could cause harm to the client, SSG personnel should respectfully request that the court withdraw the order or limit the order as narrowly as possible, or request the court to maintain the records under seal and unavailable for public inspection.
(j) SSG personnel should protect the confidentiality of clients and the people and organizations they engage in business with when responding to requests from members of the media. Only SSG authorized management personnel can under certain limited circumstances provide limited information to the media while ensuring that no confidential or privileged information is released.
(k) SSG directors, officers, employees and other representatives should protect the confidentiality of clients’ written and electronic records and other sensitive information. SSG personnel should take reasonable steps to ensure that clients’ records are stored in a secure location and that clients’ records are not available to others who are not authorized to have access to them.
(l) SSG directors, officers, employees and other representatives should take precautions to ensure and maintain the confidentiality of information transmitted to other parties through the use of computers, electronic mail, facsimile machines, telephones and telephone answering machines, and other electronic or computer technology. Disclosure of identifying information should be avoided whenever possible.
(m) When necessary, SSG directors, officers, employees and other representatives should transfer or dispose of clients’ records in a manner that protects clients’ confidentiality and is consistent with state statutes governing the retention and destruction of records.
(n) SSG directors, officers, employees and other representatives should take reasonable precautions to protect client confidentiality in the event of the termination, incapacitation, or death of the SSG representative(s) providing services to client.
(o) SSG directors, officers, employees, trainers and other representatives should not disclose identifying information when discussing clients for teaching or training purposes unless the client has consented to disclosure of confidential information.
(p) SSG directors, officers, employees and other representatives should not disclose identifying information when discussing clients with consultants unless the client has consented to disclosure of confidential information or there is a compelling need for such disclosure.
(q) SSG directors, officers, employees and other representatives should protect the confidentiality of deceased clients consistent with the preceding standards.

1.08 Access to Records

(a) Authorized SSG personnel should provide clients with reasonable access to the client’s record. SSG personnel who are concerned that clients’ access to their records could cause serious misunderstanding or harm to the client of a third party, should consult with appropriate management personnel beforehand. One a decision to allow Client to access client record or portions thereof, SSG personnel should spate portions of the record if necessary, and provide assistance in interpreting the records and consultation with the client regarding the records content. Additionally SSG personnel should limit clients’ access to their records, or portions of their records, only in exceptional circumstances when there is compelling evidence of fear that such access would cause serious harm to the client or a third party associated with the assignment. Both clients’ requests and the rationale for withholding some or all of the record should be documented in clients’ files and notified promptly to SSG executive management.
(b) When providing clients with access to their records, authorized SSG personnel should take steps to protect the confidentiality of other individuals identified or discussed in such records.

1.09 Personal Relationships with Clients and Others

(a) SSG directors, officers, employees and other representatives should under no circumstances engage in sexual activities or sexual contact with current clients, regardless of the conditions surrounding the event.
(b) SSG directors, officers, employees and other representatives should not engage in intimate relationships or sexual activities or contact of a sexual nature with clients’ relatives or other individuals with whom clients maintain a close personal relationship. Intimate relationships and sexual activity or sexual contact with clients’ relatives or other individuals with whom clients maintain a personal relationship has the potential to be harmful to the client and may make it difficult for SSG personnel and client to maintain appropriate professional boundaries. SSG personnel—not their clients, their clients’ relatives, or other individuals with whom the client maintains a personal relationship—assume the full burden for setting clear, appropriate, and culturally sensitive boundaries.
(c) SSG directors, officers, employees and other representatives should not engage in intimate or sexual activities or contact of a sexual nature with former clients due to the potential for harm to the client. If SSG personnel or other representatives engage in conduct contrary to this prohibition or claim that an exception to this prohibition is warranted because of extraordinary circumstances, SSG personnel—not their clients—assume the full burden of demonstrating that the former client has not been exploited, coerced, or manipulated, intentionally or unintentionally.
(d) SSG personnel and other representatives should not provide services for individuals with whom they have had a prior intimate or sexual relationship. Providing services to a former intimate or sexual partner has the potential to be harmful to the individual and to SSG, and is likely to make it difficult for the particular SSG personnel to maintain appropriate professional boundaries.
1.10 Physical Contact
SSG directors, officers, employees and other representatives should not engage in physical contact with clients when there is a possibility of psychological harm to the client as a result of the contact (such as cradling or caressing clients). SSG directors, officers, employees and other representatives who engage in appropriate physical contact with clients are responsible for setting clear, appropriate, and culturally sensitive boundaries that govern such physical contact.

1.11 Sexual Harassment

SSG directors, officers, employees and other representatives are expressly prohibited from engaging in any type of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment includes sexual advances, sexual solicitation, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.
1.12 Derogatory Language
SSG directors, officers, employees and other representatives should not use derogatory language in their written or verbal communications. SSG personnel and other representatives should use accurate and respectful language in all internal and external communications with other employees, interns, contractors, clients or other third party.

1.13 Payment for Services

(a) When setting fees, authorized SSG personnel should ensure that the fees are fair, reasonable, and commensurate with the risks and services performed, and based on preapproved SSG rates for the specific client(s) and risks assessed.
(b) SSG directors, officers, employees and other representatives should avoid accepting goods or services from clients as payment for professional services. Bartering arrangements, particularly involving services, create the potential for conflicts of interest, exploitation, and inappropriate boundaries in SSG personnel’s relationships with clients; therefore, bartering arrangements are prohibited unless they are arranged by organizational executives and the arrangements pose no threat organizational image or reputation and under the conditions discussed below.
(c) Under limited conditions, SSG management may explore and may participate in bartering only in very limited circumstances when it can be demonstrated that such arrangements are an accepted practice among professionals in the local community, considered to be essential for the provision of services, negotiated without coercion, and entered into at the client’s initiative and with the client’s informed consent and authorized by SSG executives or their designated representative.
(d) SSG personnel who accept goods or services from clients as payment for professional services assume the full burden of demonstrating that this arrangement will not be detrimental to SSG, to the client or to the professional relationship.
(e) SSG directors, officers, employees and other representatives should never solicit a private fee or other remuneration for providing services under contract.

1.14 Clients Who Lack Decision-Making Capacity

When SSG personnel or authorized representatives act on behalf of a client, to the benefit of a person or persons who lack the capacity to make informed decisions, SSG personnel must make every reasonable effort to safeguard the interests and rights of those clients and their representatives.

1.15 Interruption of Services

Unless a contract is terminated, SSG personnel and authorized representatives should make reasonable efforts to ensure continuity of services without violating organizational polices and standards, or applicable laws and regulations.

1.16 Termination of Services

(a) SSG directors, officers, employees and other representatives should terminate services to clients when such services and relationships are no longer required or no longer serve the clients’ needs or interests. However, SSG executives and authorized representatives should attempt to maintain a professional relationship with clients that is conductive to promote organizational mission and future business
(b) Unless required through the termination of a contract or other legal mandate, SSG personnel should take reasonable steps to avoid abandoning clients who are still in need of services. However, under such conditions, SSG employees should do every reasonable effort to ensure the safety of client during withdraw of services considering all factors in the situation and taking care to minimize possible adverse effects.
(c) SSG directors and officers may authorize employees and other representatives under limited and reasonable conditions, to terminate services to clients who are not paying an overdue balance if the financial contractual arrangements have been made clear to the client. However, SSG directors and, or officers and, or other authorized representative must make every reasonable effort to discuss the consequences of the current nonpayment before terminating services.
(d) Under no circumstances should any SSG director, officer, employee, intern or any other authorized representatives initiate or terminate services for a client to pursue a social, financial, or sexual relationship with a client.
(e) In the event that SSG directors, officers or authorized representatives anticipates the termination or interruption of services to clients, the SSG authorized representatives should notify clients promptly and inform client of potential risks associated with such termination.
(f) In the event that an SSG employee or other authorized representatives is instructed to leave the worksite, he or she should inform client of such mandate and if applicable, inform client of reasonable and appropriate actions to limit risks associated with such mandate.

2. ETHICAL RESPONSIBILITIES TO COLLEAGUES

2.01 Respect

(a) SSG directors, officers, employees, interns, contractors and other representatives should treat all colleagues; regardless of position, function, race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, and mental or physical disability with dignity, respect, and fairness, and should represent accurately and fairly the qualifications, views, and obligations of colleagues.
(b) SSG directors, officers, employees, interns, contractors and other representatives should avoid unwarranted negative criticism of colleagues in communications with clients or with other professionals. Unwarranted negative criticism may include demeaning comments that refer to colleagues’ level of competence or to individuals’ attributes such as race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, and mental or physical disability.
(c) SSG personnel and authorized representatives are encouraged to cooperate with other colleagues and with colleagues of other professions when such cooperation serves the well-being of colleagues, clients, the organization, the profession and, or local and, or the community and, or the environment.

2.02 Confidentiality

SSG directors, officers, employees, interns, contractors and authorized representatives should respect confidential information shared by colleagues in the course of their professional relationships and transactions. SSG employees and authorized representatives should ensure that such colleagues understand their obligation to respect confidentiality and any exceptions related to it.

2.03 Interdisciplinary Collaboration

(a) SSG personnel that are members of an interdisciplinary team should participate in and contribute to decisions that affect the well-being of the organizations and its clients by drawing on the perspectives, values, and experiences of the profession. Professional and ethical obligations of the interdisciplinary team as a whole and of its individual members should be clearly established.
(b) SSG decision that may raise disagreements or ethical concerns should be addressed by SSG executive staff in an attempt to resolve the disagreement through appropriate channels. If the disagreement cannot be resolved, SSG executives should pursue other avenues to address their concerns consistent with legal standards and organizational and client well-being.

2.04 Disputes Involving Colleagues

(a) SSG personnel and authorized representatives should not take advantage of a dispute between a colleague and a client to obtain a position or otherwise advance their own interests.
(b) SSG personnel and authorized representatives should not exploit clients in disputes with colleagues or engage clients in any inappropriate discussion of conflicts with or among other colleagues.

2.05 Consultation

(a) SSG personnel should seek the advice and counsel of colleagues whenever such consultation is in the best interests of clients or professional development.
(b) SSG personnel should keep themselves informed about colleagues’ areas of expertise and competencies. SSG Personnel should seek consultation only from colleagues who have demonstrated knowledge, expertise, and competence related to the subject of the consultation.
(c) When consulting with colleagues about clients, SSG personnel should disclose the least amount of information necessary to achieve the purposes of the consultation.

2.06 Referral for Services

(a) SSG personnel should advice SSG management other professionals’ specialized knowledge or expertise is needed to better serve clients, or when SSG personnel believe that they are not being effective or making reasonable progress with clients and that additional service is required.
(b) When SSG management decides that making personnel changes is in the best interest to the client, SSG personnel should take appropriate steps to facilitate an orderly transfer of responsibility. To ensure that the best possible service is provided, newly assigned SSG Personnel should be briefed and provided all necessary client information, to ensure the highest level of service is provided to client.
(c) SSG employees are prohibited from giving or receiving payment for referrals to other service providers. This measure will not only serve to prevent personal gain from referring work to potentially sub-standard services providers, but will also serve to protect SSG, its personnel and clients reputation.

2.07 Intimate Personal or Sexual Relationships

(a) SSG personnel who function as managers, supervisors or educators should not engage in any sort of personal intimate or sexual activities or contact with supervisees, students, trainees, or other colleagues over whom they exercise professional authority.
(b) An exception to this rule may apply only when the supervisee, student or trainee is the spouse of the supervisor or trainer. In such instances where a marital or other intimate relationship already existed, the professional authority exercised over such student, employee or trainee will be temporary, of short duration and, or under official training conditions.
(c) Every effort shall be made to ensure that no employee that has a family member, spouse or other intimate or sexual partner working for SSG, works under the same department, and, or location, and, or shift as their family member, spouse or significant other does. The purpose of this policy is not to separate family members and other individuals, but to avoid potential or perceived conflicts of interest that may reflect negatively on SSG operations, employees and partners; and to avoid potential personal issues from interfering with the safety and or organizational operations of SSG personnel.
(b) SSG personnel should avoid engaging in intimate or sexual relationships with colleagues when there is potential for a conflict of interest. SSG personnel who become involved in, or anticipate becoming involved in, an intimate or sexual relationship with a colleague have a duty to transfer professional responsibilities, when necessary, to avoid a potential or perceived conflict of interest.

2.08 Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is illegal and prohibited by SSG policies. SSG directors, officers, employees, interns, contractors and authorized representatives should not sexually harass supervisees, students, trainees, or colleagues. Sexual harassment includes sexual advances, sexual solicitation, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.

2.09 Impairment of Colleagues

(a) SSG personnel who have direct knowledge of any SSG personnel or authorized representatives, or of client personnel who’s judgment may be impaired due to personal problems, psychosocial distress, substance or alcohol abuse, or mental health, should report such findings or suspected impairment to appropriate management personnel without delay, in order to respond to an ensure the safety of the affected individuals(s), client and personnel.
(b) If SSG personnel suspects that another member of SSG personnel or client’s personnel may be under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances or any other prescribed or over-the-counter medication that may impair the person’s abilities, or that such person represents or may have the potential of representing a risk to themselves, and, or others, SSG personnel have a duty to report such findings or suspicion to their immediate supervisors for appropriate action based on acceptable industry, ethical and legal standards and obligations.

2.10 Incompetence of Colleagues

(a) SSG personnel who have direct knowledge of any personnel’s incompetence should refer such personnel to the appropriate management personnel as soon as feasible in order to assist the colleague in taking remedial training and other appropriate action.
(b) SSG personnel who believe that any SSG employee is incompetent or unfit for duty, and that the employee and, or SSG has failed to take adequate steps to address this shortcoming, should inform their supervisor and management without delay, through the appropriate channels established by SSG to ensure that proper action is taken to remedy the situation as soon as reasonably possible.

2.11 Unethical Conduct of Colleagues

(a) SSG directors, officers, employees and interns should take adequate measures to discourage, prevent, expose, and correct the unethical conduct of colleagues.
(b) All SSG directors, officers, employees, interns, contractors and authorized representatives should be knowledgeable about SSG established policies and procedures for handling concerns about colleagues’ unethical behavior. SSG personnel should be familiar with SSG policies and with national, state, and local procedures for handling ethics complaints. These include policies and procedures created by SSG, licensing and regulatory bodies, clients, and other professional organizations.
(c) SSG directors, officers, employees, interns, contractors and authorized representatives who believe that a colleague has acted unethically should seek resolution by discussing their concerns with the colleague when feasible and when such discussion is likely to be productive and without the risk of provoking the employee or putting others at risk. If the employee’s actions may represent a risk to others, SSG personnel shall make every reasonable effort to inform SSG supervisors and or management an remove employee from premises as soon as safely possible.
(d) When necessary, SSG personnel who believe that a colleague has acted unethically should take action through appropriate formal channels to ensure that SSG management is aware of such behavior and appropriate corrective action is taken.
(e) SSG directors, officers, employees, interns, contractors and authorized representatives should make every reasonable effort to defend and assist colleagues who are unjustly charged with unethical conduct.

3. ETHICAL RESPONSIBILITIES IN PRACTICE SETTINGS

3.01 Supervision and Consultation

(a) SSG personnel who provide supervision or consultation should have the necessary knowledge and skill to supervise or consult appropriately and should do so only within their areas of knowledge and competence.
(b) SSG personnel who provide supervision or consultation are responsible for setting clear, appropriate, and culturally sensitive boundaries.
(c) SSG personnel should not engage in any dual or multiple relationships with supervisees in which there is a risk of exploitation of or potential harm to the supervisee.
(d) SSG personnel who provide supervision should evaluate supervisees’ performance in a manner that is fair and respectful.

3.02 Education and Training

(a) SSG personnel who function as educators, trainers or field instructors for students, should provide instruction only within their areas of knowledge and competence and should provide instruction based on the most current information and knowledge available in the profession.
(b) SSG personnel who function as educators or field instructors for students should evaluate students’ performance in a manner that is fair and respectful.
(c) SSG personnel who function as educators or field instructors for students should not engage in any dual or multiple relationships with students in which there is a risk of exploitation or potential harm to the student or the organization. SSG trainers, educators and field instructors are responsible for setting clear, appropriate, and culturally sensitive boundaries.

3.03 Performance Evaluation

SSG personnel who have responsibility for evaluating the performance of others should fulfill such responsibility in a fair and considerate manner and on the basis of clearly stated criteria.

3.04 Client Records

(a) SSG personnel should take reasonable steps to ensure that documentation in records is accurate and reflect and accurate account of the services provided.
(b) SSG personnel should include sufficient and timely documentation in records to facilitate the delivery of services and to ensure continuity of services provided to clients in the future.
(c) SSG personnel’s documentation should protect clients’ privacy to the extent that is possible and appropriate and should include only information that is directly relevant to the services contracted.
(d) SSG personnel should store records following the termination of services to ensure reasonable future access. Records should be maintained for the number of years required by state statutes or relevant contracts.

3.05 Billing

SSG personnel should establish and maintain billing practices that accurately reflect the nature and extent of services provided and that identify who provided the service in contracted.

3.06 Client Transfer

(a) When an individual who is receiving services from another agency or organization contacts SSG to refer such client, SSG management should carefully consider the client’s needs before agreeing to provide services. To minimize possible confusion and authorized SSG management should discuss with potential clients the nature of the clients’ current relationship with other service providers and the implications, including possible benefits and, or risks, of entering into a relationship with a new service provider.
(b) If a new client has been served by another agency or organization, SSG management should discuss with the client whether consultation with the previous service provider is in the client’s best interest.

3.07 Administration

(a) SSG administrators and authorized personnel should advocate for adequate resources to meet clients’ needs.
(b) Authorized SSG personnel and field personnel that identifies potential needs, should advocate through the proper internal channels for resource allocation and for procedures that are open and fair. When not all clients’ needs can be met, an allocation procedure should be developed that is fair, nondiscriminatory and based on appropriate and consistently applied principles. If such need does exist and proper operational functions could be impaired as a result of such deficiencies of needs, SSG management should make every reasonable effort to meet the needs identified by its personnel within the earliest reasonable time frame.
(c) SSG management personnel and other authorized representatives should take reasonable steps to ensure that adequate agency or organizational resources are available to provide appropriate staff supervision.
(d) SSG directors, officers, management and supervisory personnel should take reasonable steps to ensure that the working environment for which they are responsible for is consistent with and encourages compliance with the the SSG Code of Ethics and other legal requirements. SSG management personnel should take reasonable steps to eliminate any conditions in their organizations that violate, interfere with, or discourage compliance with the Code.

3.08 Continuing Education and Staff Development

SSG directors, officers, management and supervisory personnel should take reasonable steps to provide or arrange for continuing education and staff development for all staff for whom they are responsible. Continuing education and staff development should address current knowledge and emerging developments related to ethical conduct and the profession.

3.09 Commitments to SSG, Clients, Individuals and Organizations

(a) SSG directors, officers and management personnel should make every reasonable effort to adhere to commitments made to clients, individuals and other organizations.
(b) SSG directors, officers, management and supervisory personnel should work to improve organizational policies and procedures and the efficiency and effectiveness of their services.
(c) SSG directors, officers, management, supervisor and employees should take reasonable steps to ensure that clients are aware of SSG personnel’s ethical and legal obligations as set forth in the SSG Code and federal, state and local regulations, and of the liability associated with such policies and legal requirements.
(d) SSG personnel should not allow a client practices or client organization’s policies, procedures, regulations, or administrative orders to interfere with the legal and ethical requirements of their profession. SSG personnel should take all reasonable steps to ensure that client’s organizational practices are consistent with the SSG Code of Ethics. Any potential discrepancies with SSG Code of Ethics and the client organization should be reported to appropriate SSG management personnel for revaluation and potential action.
(e) SSG administrative, management and supervisory personnel should strive to prevent and eliminate discrimination in the workplace and in any written or unwritten policies and practices.
(f) SSG directors, officers, management and supervisory personnel should strive to ensure that SSG personnel are treated fairly and professionally at all times. If a client or a client representative consistently fails to treat SSG personnel and, or members of society fairly and professionally, SSG management shall be informed of such conduct for reasonable and appropriate action.
(g) SSG personnel should be diligent stewards of the resources of the organization, wisely conserving funds where appropriate and never misappropriating funds or using them for unauthorized and, or unethical purposes.

3.10 Professional Organizations

(a) SSG personnel may participate in events when off-duty, or at their own expense, join professional organizations dedicated to the research of, or improvement of the profession.
(b) SSG personnel may join professional organizations that peacefully pursue environmental, economical and or social well-being.
(c) As a condition of employment and, or continued employment, SSG personnel must understand that they are expected to refrain from participating, engaging in or joining individuals or organizations that advocate violence or conflicts towards other individuals, groups or organizations; including but not limited to groups or individuals of protected classes such as religious organizations or their members, political organizations or their members, ethnic groups or members or other protected groups or individuals.

4. ETHICAL RESPONSIBILITIES AS PROFESSIONALS

4.01 Competence

(a) SSG personnel should accept assignments and responsibilities based only on the basis of existing competence or the intention to acquire the necessary competence under the direct supervision of a competent supervisor or trainer, and with prior approval of SSG management.
(b) SSG personnel should strive to become and remain proficient in the professional practice and the performance of their professional functions. SSG personnel should critically examine and keep current with emerging knowledge relevant to their profession. SSG personnel should routinely review the professional literature of their profession and participate in continuing education relevant to their professions and ethical practices.
(c) SSG personnel should perform their duties bases on acceptable professional standards, including empirically based knowledge, relevant to their profession and ethical standards and practices.

4.02 Discrimination

SSG directors, officers, employees, contractors and, or authorized representatives shall not practice, condone, facilitate, or collaborate in any form of discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, or mental or physical disability.

4.03 Private Conduct

SSG directors, officers, employees, contractors and, or authorized representatives should not permit their private conduct to interfere with their ability to fulfill their professional responsibilities.

4.04 Dishonesty, Fraud, and Deception
SSG directors, officers, employees, contractors and, or authorized representatives should not participate in, condone, or be associated with dishonesty, fraud, or deception.

4.05 Impairment
(a) SSG directors, officers, employees, contractors and, or authorized representatives should not allow their own personal problems, psychosocial distress, legal problems, substance abuse, or mental health difficulties to interfere with their professional judgment and performance, or to jeopardize the best interests of the organization or the people for whom they have a professional responsibility.
(b) SSG directors, officers, employees, contractors and, or authorized representatives should not allow personal problems, psychosocial distress, legal problems, substance abuse, or mental health difficulties interfere with their professional judgment and performance; and should immediately seek assistance and take appropriate remedial action by seeking professional help, making the necessary notifications to transfer work duties, and taking any other steps necessary to safeguard their health and to protect clients and others.

4.06 Misrepresentation

(a) SSG directors, officers, employees, contractors and, or authorized representatives should make clear distinctions between statements made and actions engaged in as a private individual and as a representative of SSG, or professional any other agencies or organizations.
(b) SSG directors, officers, employees, contractors and, or authorized representatives who speak on behalf of other professional organizations should accurately represent the official and authorized positions of the organizations during speeches.
(c) SSG personnel should ensure that their representations to clients, agencies, and the public of their own professional qualifications, credentials, education, competence, affiliations, services provided, or results to be achieved are accurate. SSG personnel should claim only those relevant professional credentials they actually possess and take steps to correct any inaccuracies or misrepresentations of their credentials by others.

4.07 Solicitations

(a) SSG personnel should not engage in uninvited solicitation of potential clients who, because of their circumstances, are vulnerable to undue influence, manipulation, or coercion.
(b) SSG employees should not engage in solicitation of testimonial endorsements (including solicitation of consent to use a client’s prior statement as a testimonial endorsement) from current clients or from other people who, because of their particular circumstances, are vulnerable to undue influence.

4.08 Acknowledging Credit

(a) SSG personnel should only take responsibility and credit, including authorship credit, to the appropriate degree they have contributed, for work they have actually performed and to which they have contributed.
(b) SSG personnel should honestly acknowledge the work of, and the contributions made by others.
(c) SSG personnel should refrain from accepting full responsibility or credit for work they completed with other contributors. This includes, when necessary, correcting others misguided claims that the work completed and, or results should be attributed exclusively to a single person. SSG personnel shall make every reasonable attempt to give the proper credit to all of those that contributed in the work performed.

5. ETHICAL RESPONSIBILITIES TO THE PROFESSION

5.01 Professional Integrity

(a) SSG personnel should work toward the maintenance and promotion of high standards of the profession.
(b) SSG personnel should uphold and advance the values, ethics, knowledge, and mission of the profession. SSG Personnel should make a reasonable effort protect, enhance, and improve the integrity of the profession through appropriate study and research, active discussion, and responsible criticism of the profession.
(c) SSG directors, officers and employees are encouraged to make a reasonable effort to promote and contribute time and professional expertise to activities that promote respect for the value, integrity, and competence of the profession. These activities may include teaching, research, consultation, service, presentations in the community, and participation in their professional organizations.
(d) SSG directors, officers and employees are encouraged to make a reasonable effort to contribute to the knowledge base of profession by sharing with colleagues their knowledge related to practice, research, and ethics. SSG personnel with a high degree of expertise in their professions should seek to contribute to the profession’s literature and to share their knowledge at professional meetings and conferences.
(e) SSG directors, officers and employees should make ever reasonable effort to prevent the unauthorized and unqualified practice of profession.

5.02 Evaluation and Research

(a) SSG directors, officers and supervisors should monitor and evaluate policies, the implementation of programs, and practical applications; and offer recommendations based on observations, technical knowledge and the acceptable standards and practices of the profession.
(b) SSG personnel should promote and facilitate evaluation and research to contribute to the development of knowledge.
(c) SSG personnel should critically examine and keep current with emerging knowledge relevant to the profession and only use the techniques and practices that are based on acceptable legal, professional and ethical standards.
(d) SSG personnel engaged in evaluation or research should carefully consider possible consequences of such research and should follow all legal, ethical and professional guidelines developed and approved for the profession. Appropriate review boards should be consulted.
(e) SSG personnel should never design or conduct evaluation or research on their own. Any research or evaluation should be authorized and conducted under strict supervision of professional organizations or a SSG approved research board under the guidance of field experts, and if deemed necessary by SSG directors or officers, under the guidance of legal counsel.
(f) SSG personnel engaged in evaluation or research should ensure the safety of all individuals participating in the evaluation or research.
(g) SSG personnel engaged in the evaluation and research should discuss the collected information only for professional purposes with those professionals concerned with this information. If new standards or policies are to be created based on the results of the evaluation or research, authorized SSG personnel should work towards the creation and dissemination of such information within a reasonable timeframe based on the needs of the service and, or the safety of others.
(h) SSG personnel engaged in evaluation or research should ensure the anonymity or confidentiality of participants when possible, and of the data obtained from them. SSG personnel engaged in evaluation or research should inform participants of any limits of confidentiality, the measures that will be taken to ensure confidentiality, and when any records containing research data will be destroyed or if necessary, made available to the client.
(i) When appropriate, SSG personnel who report evaluation and research results should protect participants’ confidentiality by omitting identifying information unless proper consent has been obtained authorizing disclosure.
(j) SSG personnel who report evaluation and research results should report findings accurately. They should not fabricate or falsify results and should take steps to correct any errors later found in reports; and, or in published data using standard publication methods.
(k) SSG personnel who engaged in evaluation and research should be alert to and avoid conflicts of interest and dual relationships with participants. Additionally, they should inform supervisors and participants when a real or potential conflict of interest arises, and should take steps to resolve the issue in a manner that makes participants’ interests primary.
(l) SSG management and personnel who engaged in evaluation and research should educate themselves, their students, and their colleagues about responsible research and reporting practices.

6. ETHICAL RESPONSIBILITIES TO THE BROADER SOCIETY

6.01 Social Welfare

SSG personnel should strive to promote the general welfare of society, from local to global levels, and the development of people, their communities, and their environments. SSG personnel should advocate for living conditions conducive to the fulfillment of basic human needs and should promote social, economic, political, and cultural values and institutions that are compatible with the realization of social justice.

6.02 Public Participation

SSG personnel should strive to take an active role in shaping social policies and supporting government programs and other organizations that attempt to improve social policies and programs through organized peaceful means.

6.03 Stated of Emergency

SSG personnel is encouraged to seek additional training and volunteer to assist government and private organizations that provide services during states of emergency.

6.04 Social and Political Action

(a) SSG personnel should engage in peaceful social and political action that seeks to peacefully ensure that all people have equal access to the resources, employment, services, and opportunities they require to meet their basic human needs and to develop fully. SSG personnel should be aware of the impact of the political arena, and should advocate for changes in policy and legislation to improve social conditions in order to meet basic human needs and promote social justice.
(b) SSG personnel should act to expand choice and opportunity for all people, with special regard for vulnerable, disadvantaged, oppressed, and exploited people and groups.
(c) SSG personnel should promote conditions that encourage respect for cultural and social diversity within the United States and globally. SSG personnel should promote policies and practices that demonstrate respect for difference, support the expansion of cultural knowledge and resources, advocate for programs and institutions that demonstrate cultural competence, and promote policies that safeguard the rights of and confirm equity and social justice for all people.
(d) SSG personnel should act to prevent and eliminate domination of, exploitation of, and discrimination against any person, group, or class on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, or mental or physical disability.