Technology firms supplying Los Angeles County with hardware have been asked to avoid using the words "master" and "slave" to describe their products.
The request follows a complaint by one LA County employee who considered the description offensive. The worker filed a discrimination complaint after seeing videotape machines labelled with the words.
Hi-tech firms supplying the county are being asked to avoid unacceptable labels and instead use alternatives.
Technology firms were asked to use different terms in an e-mail sent to them on 18 November by Joe Sandoval, division manager of purchasing and contract services for LA County's Internal Services Department. In the message Mr Sandoval wrote: "Based on the cultural diversity and sensitivity of Los Angeles County, this is not an acceptable identification label."
The terms "master" and "slave" are used frequently throughout the hi-tech world to describe a configuration in which one piece of hardware controls another.
In an interview Mr Sandoval said the e-mail message was no more than a request and was not intended as an ultimatum. "I do understand that this term has been an industry standard for years and years and this is nothing more than a plea to vendors to see what they can do," he said. "It appears that some folks have taken this a little too literally."