Master and Servant

Primary tabs

An antiquated term which describes the employment relationship within employment law and is sometimes used in agency law. This relationship can exist, for example, between an employer and employee or an employer and an independent contractor. With regard to agency law, a master is a principal and a servant is an agent. This language is used in older cases such as in O’Connor v. McDonald’s Restaurants which assessed the extent of tort liability that a master (employer) had for a servant’s (employee) actions taken during the course of employment, through the doctrine of respondeat superior.

[Last updated in June of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]