You do not indicate if you are proceeding through the EEOC, or if you hired private counsel. If you hired private counsel, there are many different forms of attorney engagement agreements, and they can be extremely different in how the end result plays out. Some attorneys bear the entire cost of the litigation during the entire case, and will require you to assign all awards related to attorney fees back to them. Some attorneys require the client to bear all costs, but at the end of the day will take only 1/3 of the entire award or settlement, but first reimbursing the client for the costs paid. This question cannot be answered without review of your engagement agreement. If you have questions, you should ask your attorney and make sure you understand the deal before signing, if you haven't yet executed the agreement.
Without knowing all of the details, reviewing documents, and interviewing witnesses, no person should assume that this Answer constitutes specific legal advice for any specific legal situation. No attorney-client relationship is created by posting general legal responses on this site.
Your potential for recovering attorneys fees depends on your particular claim. Your attorney should be able to answer this question for you, but you can always seek a second opinion if you are unclear about how your potential settlement money will be disbursed.
This response is meant for general information only and does not constitute legal advice. This response does not create an attorney-client relationship.
I am a California attorney and cannot give legal advice in your state. My comments are information only, based on federal law and general legal principles. YOUR STATE MAY HAVE ITS OWN LAWS THAT OFFER SIMILAR OR GREATER PROTECTION. If I mention your state’s laws, it only means I did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant. You MUST check with an attorney licensed in your state to learn your rights.
Are you an employee of the federal government? I ask because federal agencies have EEO offices (Equal Employment Opportunity) while the private sector uses the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission). If you are a federal government employee: The process for filing a discrimination complaint against the federal government is complicated and counter-intuitive. Because of its special characteristics, I have written a guide to help federal employees navigate the system. Please see my Avvo guide to the EEO complaint process for federal government employees: http://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/summary-of-federal-employees-eeo-discrimination-complaint-process?published=true.
In either case, attorney's fees are an element of damages in a discrimination case. The distribution of any award or settlement is determined by your fee agreement with your attorney.
If you do not yet have an attorney, this is something to discuss before signing an agreement, and be sure the description in the agreement is clear before you sign. If you already have an attorney, read your fee agreement and talk to your attorney about it.
BTW in employment law, we use the term "emotional distress" instead of "pain and suffering," which is most often used for personal injury.
* * * PLEASE READ: All legal actions have time limits, called statutes of limitation. If you miss the deadline for filing your claim, you will lose the opportunity to pursue your case. Please consult with an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible to better preserve your rights. * * * Marilynn Mika Spencer provides information on Avvo as a service to the public, primarily when general information may be of assistance. Avvo is not an appropriate forum for an in-depth response or a detailed analysis. These comments are for information only and should not be considered legal advice. Legal advice must pertain to specific, detailed facts. * * * No attorney-client relationship is created based on this information exchange. * * *