Domino’s Pizza has been hit by a class action claiming thousands of workers have been underpaid for more than four years through substandard agreements negotiated by the shop assistants’ union.

The class action claims delivery workers and in-store employees were employed under agreements that did not pay award entitlements, including a 25 per cent loading for casual workers, penalty rates for working after-hours, on weekends and on public holidays, and a laundry allowance.

The claim alleges key award entitlements were “systemically avoided” between June 2013 and January last year

The class action alleges Domino’s engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct when advising its franchisees that employee pay and conditions should be determined by reference to the agreements that denied workers key entitlements.

The claim alleges the workers should have been paid under the Fast Food Industry Award 2010, under which they would have received casual loading, penalty rates, three-hour minimum shifts and laundry allowances.

The alleged underpayments were uncovered during a “forensic investigation” led by the Retail and Fast Food Workers’ Union.

RAFFWU secretary Josh Cullinan, said “the scale of Domino’s misconduct is unprecedented”.

“We believe that tens of thousands of workers were never paid for casual loading, penalty rates, travel costs and laundry allowances,’’ he said.

“Delivery drivers and fast food workers are some of the most vulnerable workers in Australia.

“Domino’s CEO Don Meij took home a multi-million dollar pay packet every year, while drivers and store employees never saw a lot of the money they earned. Some workers are owed tens of thousands of dollars. It’s nothing short of a disgrace.”

Riley Gall, a former delivery driver at two Domino’s franchisees, is leading the action on behalf of other affected employees.

“I worked hard for two Domino’s franchisees for years. It’s only fair that the company pay me and other workers what we are owed,” he said.

The class action has been brought by specialist class action law firm, Phi Finney McDonald, and is backed by global litigation funder Therium Litigation Finance.

Phi Finney McDonald principal lawyer, Brett Spiegel, said the class action would benefit delivery drivers and in-store workers employed in Australian franchise stores between June 24 2013 and January 24 last year.

“Domino’s workers should have been paid under the award, but they were not. It is only fair that Domino’s pay employees what they’re owed,’ he said.

In a statement to the ASX, Domino’s Pizza Enterprises said it believed the agreements rather than the award applied to the workers.

“Domino’s is of the view that those industrial agreements applied to its franchisees at all relevant times,” the company said

“Domino’s takes the proper payment of its team members seriously. Any formal proceedings received will be reviewed and actioned in the ordinary course.”

At 11am (AEST), Domino’s ASX-listed shares were down 68 cents, or 1.74 per cent, to $38.45.