Los Angeles — Making would-be employees sign mandatory arbitration clauses as a condition of work violates their rights, the federal government says in a suit against a San Diego law firm.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed suit on Feb. 7 in U.S. district court here against the old-line firm Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps L.L.P. It seeks compensatory and punitive damages for a legal secretary, Donald Lagatree, and an injunction against the practice.