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Fearing it would compromise his career, lawyer Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks) hides his homosexuality and HIV status at a powerful Philadelphia law firm. But his secret is exposed when a colleague spots the illness's telltale lesions. Fired shortly afterwards, Beckett resolves to sue for discrimination, teaming up with Joe Miller (Denzel Washington), the only lawyer willing to help. In court, they face one of his ex-employer's top litigators, Belinda Conine (Mary Steenburgen).