LOS ANGELES (AP)—A county official has asked computer and video equipment vendors to consider eliminating the terms "master" and "slave" from equipment because they may be considered offensive.
"Based on the cultural diversity and sensitivity of Los Angeles County, this is not an acceptable identification label," according to an e-mail sent to vendors on Nov. 18. The memo asks manufacturers, suppliers and contractors to change or remove any labels on components "that could be interpreted as discriminatory or offensive in nature."
The countys 39 departments also were told to identify equipment with offensive labels.
"We got a note back from IBM saying thank you for bringing this to our attention and well take a look at this," said Joe Sandoval, who wrote the memo. Sandoval is division manager of purchasing and contract services for the countys Internal Services Department.
The term "master" and "slave"—when applied to electronic equipment—describes one device controlling another.
In May, a black employee of the Probation Department filed a discrimination complaint with the county Office of Affirmative Action Compliance after noticing the words on a videotape machine.
"This individual felt that it was offensive and inappropriate ... given the experiences that this country has gone through in respect to slavery," office director Dennis A. Tafoya said.
The issue was solved by putting tape over the labels and replacing "master" and "slave" with "primary" and "secondary," Tafoya said.
Although Tafoya said his office did not find discrimination in the case, he added, "I think we constantly need to be conscious of these issues."
Sandoval said the county is making a suggestion, not trying to dictate political correctness.
"Knowing that its an industry standard, theres no way that Im going to stop buying that equipment," he said.