Respondeat Superior Law & Legal Definition


Respondeat superior is a Latin term meaning "let the superior reply".  It is used to describe the legal relationship between an employer and employee for purposes of determining an employer's liability for acts of an employee. A employee and employer relationship is determined based upon the amount of control the employer exercises over the service provide by the employee. An employer will be liable for acts of an employee committed while within the scope of employment. Such liability attaching to an employer due to acts of an employee is called vicarious liability.

This is distinguished from a relationship between an employer and independent contractor. An employer is generally not vicariously liable for acts of an independent contractor, whether or not they were done within the scope of employment.