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Servant is an antiquated term used to refer to an employee—and not an independent contractor. Employees are distinct from independent contractors in that employees do not retain control over how they do their work. Under the “master-servant” rule, an employer (master) is vicariously liable for the negligence of an employee (servant) when the employee is acting in an employment capacity under the doctrine of respondeat superior. Under this doctrine, the employer need not be aware of the employee’s activity in order to be held liable for their actions. 

[Last updated in August of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]